Carlton woman, 85, conned out of £4,000 in iTunes vouchers in day-long cold call

Video: Trading Standards Officer Sharon May warns against scammers.

An elderly Nottingham woman was conned out of £4,000 by a telephone fraudster who tricked her into travelling to different supermarkets to buy iTunes vouchers.

Police and Trading Standards are investigating the lengthy scam, which has been used several times locally.

The 85-year-old victim from Carlton was contacted on Wednesday, May 10, by someone claiming to be from HMRC telling her she owed £4,000 in tax dating back to 1969.

The scammer claimed that if she did not pay the police would arrest her immediately, they then demanded her mobile number and kept her on the phone for most of the day.

First they convinced her to go to a supermarket in Arnold and buy iTunes vouchers – but the shop only had £2,000 worth of cards available in the store.

When staff asked why she was buying so many she was instructed by the scammers to tell them they were a present for a relative abroad.

The 85-year-old was then told to travel to a supermarket in Castle Marina for the other £2,000 worth of iTunes vouchers, and gave staff the same answer when asked about her purchase.

The scammers instructed her to read the voucher card numbers out to them.

After eventually starting to feel wary of the conman, the elderly women took a taxi home and told a neighbour, who called the police.

She was again contacted by the suspects yesterday, who said they would be sending someone round to pick up the vouchers.

Officers have put measures in place to protect the woman but believe the con was run from abroad.

Detective Sergeant Nikki Smith of Nottinghamshire Police said: “We’ve had several incidents like this where the suspects claim to be from HMRC and demand the purchase of iTunes vouchers to settle the bill, it’s believed to be a national scam.

“iTunes have a warning on their website but not many elderly people will see this.

“Although on both occasions this victim was challenged by supermarket staff, this is unusual and we would ask retailers to be even more robust in their questioning of people purchasing large amounts of vouchers in these circumstances, particularly the elderly.”

Police are asking people to be vigilant using the ‘Take Five’ campaign. 

A HMRC spokesperson said: “HMRC takes security extremely seriously, we are aware that some people have received telephone calls from individuals claiming to be from HMRC.

“We are a well-known brand, which criminals abuse, to add credibility to their scams. HMRC will never request tax debts to be paid in payment vouchers and we are clear that they cannot be used to pay tax.

“We recommend that if you cannot verify the identity of a caller that you do not speak to them – we encourage you to check GOV.UK for information on how to avoid and report scams, recognise genuine HMRC contact and make payments to HMRC.”

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