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Mark Jones (Police, Media Officer, Wiltshire)

Wiltshire Police are investigating two separate incidents where bogus phone handlers, posing as HM Revenue and Customs officials, have preyed on two members of the public.

Both incidents took place yesterday (Tuesday 31st May 2016) in Swindon.

In both cases the caller claimed the victims owed taxes and were about to be summoned to court should they not pay £4,000 immediately.

The bogus caller used many methods to frighten one of the victims into paying, including threatening them with the repossession of their house or vehicle, receiving a prison sentence or a much larger fine.

The caller stated that the victim must go to the nearest supermarket and purchase an Apple itunes gift card to the stated value – this happened whilst the caller remained on the phone; the victim was then told to read the serial numbers over the phone so the value of the card can be redeemed, leaving the victim out of pocket.

In one of the incidents yesterday, the fraudsters managed to take £1,900 from one person. In the other, a vigilant store assistant became suspicious and called security who alerted police to the scam.

PC Chris Hughes said: “This scam relies on people not knowing what *itunes gift cards are. These are never used by HMRC or any government organisation to pay bills, taxes etc.
“We are asking people to be extra vigilant in this and all cold calling scams; do not accept anonymous callers who call you up and state out of the blue that you owe them money, especially if you know nothing about it.
“Refuse to provide any of your details, such as your name, address, phone number; never give your bank details.
“Politely ask them not to call again, hang up and then call the police on 101.”

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