Fraud Alert: iTunes Gift Cards and Fuel Cards
Release Date: March 13, 2018
The Kingston Police Fraud unit continues to receive complaints of fraud involving iTunes Gift Cards and Fuel Cards used as a form of currency.
The fraud usually involves contact by phone either directly or in-directly through an automated message, or through text messages or email messages. The message will be from someone instructing you to pay outstanding taxes, a legal fine, a utility or service bill, etc. To prevent you from having time to realize it is a scam, the contact usually has a sense of urgency that you pay immediately or risk further penalty, interest, arrest, charges, etc.
Here are a few examples:
- The fraudster claims to be with Canada Revenue Agency and failure to immediately pay taxes you owe will result in legal action and/or more interest.
- The fraudster claims to be and officer and if you do not immediately pay some sort of legal fine or bail charge, police will be at your door to arrest you.
- The fraudster claims to be with a utility or service company and threatens to cut off your heat/hydro, cable, water, etc. if you do not pay immediately.
The fraudster tells you the quickest and easiest way to pay your fines (to prevent arrest or charge) or fees (to prevent more interest) is by purchasing iTunes gift cards or Fuel gift cards. Once you purchase the card the fraudster will direct you to provide them with the numerical code revealed underneath the peel-off label on the back, in order to “pay your fine, fee, etc.” Once you give the fraudster the code, the money is gone almost immediately as the fraudsters can easily sell the loaded card numbers for a fraction of their retail price.
Those with some tech knowledge may easily recognize the above examples as frauds. However even tech savvy people have been scammed by fraudsters claiming the gift cards can be a way to use Apple Pay to avoid the security risks of linking your credit card to Apple Pay.
How to Prevent These Types of Frauds:
- Knowledge of the common frauds and scams is a big part. The Competition Bureau of Canada has a great educational resource, The Little Black Book of Scams, available here: http://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/03074.html
- Share the information. Even if you are not tricked by a fraud or scam, a family member, friend, neighbour, colleague, employee, etc. might be. So talk about it, share it on social media (use hashtage #FraudPreventionMonth), and report it:
- If you were contacted by a fraudster, whether or not you lost money or property, you can help build information on current frauds and scams by reporting online to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at: http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/reportincident-signalerincident/index-eng.htm.
- If you are a resident of Kingston, you can also report the incident to Kingston Police online at: https://www.kingstonpolice.ca/services/online/crime-report/
- If you think you have just been scammed, contact Apple or the Gas Company immediately. They may be able to cancel the gift card before the funds are gone.
- Employers and employees who work where gift cards are sold, should have a conversation about these types of frauds. Have a plan in place of what should be done if a customer wants to purchase a large value of gift cards, especially if they seem to be doing so with some sense of urgency.
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