“Maggie Passino, 20, received a string of frantic calls on her first day of college that scared her into throwing away $1,762 in savings. She wanted to go to college, not to jail, so she paid up,” Susan Tompor reports for The Detroit Free Press. “‘They kept calling and calling and calling until I picked up,’ said Passino, a freshman at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va.”
“The man claimed to be from the Internal Revenue Service and had her name and home address. She owed back taxes and taxes for school, he said, and she needed to pay now or be arrested. ‘He said, ‘You’re going to be receiving a call from 911 and if you pick that up, you’ll be arrested,” said Passino, who is majoring in agricultural technology. Sure enough, 911 appeared on her phone,” Tompor reports. “So ultimately, she drove to a Kroger store and put her money on iTunes gift cards, just like the IRS impostor instructed.”
“Does it make sense that the IRS would tell people to drive to a Kroger and put money on iTunes gift cards to pay a tax bill?” Tompor reports. “‘I was freaked out,’ she said. ‘It was horrible. It’s the first day of classes — and everything is already in jeopardy. … They’ve got the intimidation thing down for sure.’ She put $500 on three iTunes cards and $262 on a fourth, using her debit card.”
“The IRS impostors have been dialing for your dollars since at least October 2013. Many of us hang up or just don’t answer. But the calls keep coming. And con artists do trick some people into handing over a couple thousand dollars,” Tompor reports. “Once scam victims put money on iTunes cards, they’re asked to read the 16-digit code off the back of the card and scammers can get the cash in a quick, clean, often untraceable way — and leave their victims with nothing.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Take: If you’re not shopping at the iTunes store, you 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. Government offices like the IRS won’t require you to use these payment methods. If you get targeted by a scam like this, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.