BRAND MHR Madeleine King is calling on all retailers selling iTunes Gift Cards to be alert to potential scams when they are being purchased.
The warning comes after Ms King ran a series of newspaper articles warning residents about an increase in scam activity recently.
She lamented that the warnings came too late for an injured constituent currently on Newstart.
“He came to my office wanting to publicise his experience in a hope that no-one else would go through the stress he has been through,” she said.
“His experience is extraordinary – not least because six times he was able to go to four local retailers and obtain iTunes cards to the value of $1000 with very few questions asked.
“On August 14 at 8.30am the resident spoke on his mobile to a caller claiming to work at ‘IF Telecom’.
“The caller told him the company owed him $300 because he had paid too much in monthly phone rentals.
“The caller said they don’t pay by cheque but could put the money into the resident’s bank account.
“This excuse was used to gain access to the man’s online bank accounts where money was switched around in the accounts.
“The caller then told him he had made a ‘grave error’ and added a ‘3’ to the amount, instead transferring $3300.
“It actually occurred but the excess money was transferred from the resident’s own savings account.”
To remedy the situation the caller made a suggestion.
“He suggested my constituent purchase iTunes gift cards to repay the $3000,” she said.
“He said that he could buy only $1000 worth of cards from each retailer and if queried, he should just say that the cards were gifts for his children.
The resident complied, buying $3000 worth of cards from individual retailers.
“Card details were read to the caller – who then doubled that amount to $6000 with another claim of a faulty transfer.
“Again the resident went out and bought more iTunes cards.
“Throughout the entire exercise, the scammer stayed on the line for a period of two hours, gently guiding and encouraging the resident.”
During that time the resident ended up buying $6000 worth of gift cards on his Visa credit card.
“In two instances, the resident went to the same retailer twice. In only one case was he questioned – by a young man who readily accepted the line that it was for gifts for his kids,” Ms Brand said.
“My previous warning to residents warned that Australians are being ripped off for millions of dollars by scammers.
“But I also hope that retailers alert their staff to the risk of scams. It is very troubling that this resident was queried only once while making six big individual purchases of iTunes cards.
“These cards were all bought on a Visa credit card – and in that case the scammer, who stayed on the phone for two hours – gave him the fake reason – ‘it’s gifts for your kids’.
“I am pleased that the resident immediately contacted WA Consumer Affairs, his bank and the police who are investigating this fraud.”