Monday, December 19, 2016 7:15 am, Posted by Absolute Destruction
A new kind of extortion scam has hit the nation, but it’s a cover of the same old song: scammers try to trick you out of money by claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency. Except this time, instead of getting you to send money through PayPal or some other account, they request payment in the form of iTunes gift cards. Strange though their demands may be, it’s a scam that’s gaining traction. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has received 46 complaints regarding this scam this year alone, with total losses amounting to over $85,000. This is obviously a new concern, so it’s something we here at Absolute Destruction want to discuss.
The iTunes scam uses fear in order to loosen money from your wallet. Posing as the CRA, criminals will make contact with an individual, claiming there’s an issue with their tax return. As a result, a considerable amount of money is owed. They imply through threatening language that the error could lead to involvement with the RCMP, imprisonment, and even deportation in some cases. If engaged, the scammer will suggest the use of iTunes gift cards as a way to avoid criminal charges.
That’s how Michelle Jaksic from Ottawa was convinced to spend over $12,000 on iTunes gift cards. After responding to an intimidating message, she spoke with a man impersonating a CRA officer. Once the scammer was assured he had Jaksic hooked, he claimed she could resolve the issue without involving the police by purchasing the gift cards and sharing the codes on the back. As was the case with Jaksic, once a criminal has the 16-digit code from the back of these gift cards, the money is gone.
The increasing frequency of this trick has caused iTunes to release an official statement regarding these scams, reminding customers their gift cards are only used to purchases items and services from their store. If an individual or organization claims they can be used to pay for other services, like back taxes, you’ve been targeted. The CAFC echo these sentiments, reminding Canadians the CRA would never ask for tax payments via gift cards as they already have your tax file on their servers. If you ever question the validity of any message alleging to be from the CRA, you can always contact the agency by email or phone and confirm they sent the message.
The basic structure of the iTunes scam is an important reminder that you shouldn’t share any important details with anyone but verified businesses and trusted government sources. Add the 16-digit code on the back of iTunes gift cards to the list of personal information you should keep protected. Like your contact information and financial account numbers, this code shouldn’t be shared until you no longer need it. In the case of a gift card, you can simply dispose of it in the garbage because you’ll have depleted its funds. In the case of your personal information, however, you’ll still need our secured shredding methods to dispose of it safely. Give us a call when you need help destroying your paper and electronic documents, and remember — always verify the source of any email asking for money, especially when it concerns your taxes!