$8000 in iTunes to pay tax? iDon't think so

An aggressive phone scam linked to fake IRD claims has seen at least one victim lose thousands.
WAVEBREAK MEDIA/123RF

An aggressive phone scam linked to fake IRD claims has seen at least one victim lose thousands.

A man spent $8000 on iTunes vouchers for crooks who conned him into thinking he was paying off a tax debt.

IRD said this week hundreds of people had received calls from scammers claiming to be from the tax collector threatening people over tax evasion and police are now police are warning about aggressive scams after the case involving the Taupo man came to light.

It started when he received a message on his landline from someone claiming to be from the Inland Revenue Department. 

He was told there was a warrant out for his arrest due to tax evasions and unpaid tax. 

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Police say he called them back and a woman answered who gave him an IRD spiel and convinced him they were legitimate. 

After a lengthy discussion, he was told to purchase iTunes cards from a local outlet and pass their details on to the scammers so they could use them.

"He bought eighty $100 cards and was then made to read out the serial numbers," Senior Sergeant Fane Troy said. 

Police have had four instances of this scam reported to them in Taupo over the past few weeks. 

"Anyone can become a victim of this sort of crime," Troy said. "The scam was very believable."

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"If you receive a call from someone claiming to be from an agency, the best advice is to only call them back on the number listed in the phone book and ask to be connected to that person.

"Do not call the number they leave in the message."

Police encourage retailers to also be on the lookout for potential scam victims after this incident. 

"If retailers see someone purchasing a large number of gift cards question them about what they are being used for," Troy said. 

IRD customer services group manager Eleanor Young said since Tuesday more than 500 people had reported calls telling them they were being investigated for historic tax fraud or evasion, and threatening legal action.

"Customers should always be totally satisfied that they are talking to a genuine Inland Revenue staff member before handing over any personal details. These callers are quite clever and are particularly aggressive, so people need to be wary of being caught out," she said.

IRD's scam alert page said the most common methods used by fraudsters to collect someone's personal information are email and phone scams.

Email scams usually have Inland Revenue logos and say you are owed a tax refund, but ask for more personal information to claim it. Inland Revenue says it never advises of a refund via email. 

IRD investigates, and will take action on, reported scams. It also lists reported scams on ird.govt.nz

They advise anyone who receives a suspicious email, text message or fraudulent call to email phishing@ird.govt.nz and include as much detail as possible. 

 - Stuff

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