By: Sharon Aron Baron
Scammers – they want your money, and they want it fast. The latest crop con artists are targeting the weakest and vulnerable among us with the threat of jail time if they don’t comply with their wishes.
The latest scam? Using iTunes gift cards to get your money. Here’s how it works: first they call the victim and tell them they are with the Internal Revenue Service or the U.S. Department of Treasury and that they will be arrested if they don’t pay their back taxes. The only way they can stop from being put in jail is if the victim immediately heads to the nearest drugstore and purchase iTunes gift cards with the amount of funds that they ask for. This all must be done while the scammer is kept on the phone. After the money is loaded, and the code on the back is shared with the scammer, the money is gone for good.
One resident, who asked not to be named, works at a local pharmacy and said she has seen quite a few people coming into the store who have received a call from the so-called “Department of Treasury.” She said those that seem prone to fall for the scam are the elderly or those who don’t speak English – and are not familiar with what iTunes is. When this happens, she said the store contacts the Coral Springs Police Department.
The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers if they’re not shopping at the iTunes store, they shouldn’t be paying with an iTunes gift card.
Other payment methods scammers might ask for include Amazon gift cards, PayPal, reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit, or Vanilla, or by wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram. Also the scammers may pose as a family member or online love interest who needs your help fast. Don’t fall for it.
Government offices will never require you to use these payment methods. Also, the Internal Revenue Office will never call you or request money over the phone. You will always receive written correspondence.
If you are targeted by a scam like this, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.