Following the purchase, the victim is asked to pay the fraudster over the phone by reading out the 16-digit code (in the case of iTunes gift cards) on the back of the card. The fraudster then either sells the codes on, or purchases high-value products, at the expense of the victim.
In reality, this type of gift card/voucher can be used only to purchase goods and/or services on the website of the business issuing it. However, many people have fallen victim to the scam as they do not understand how such schemes work.
According to HMRC, the average loss is £1,150 and most victims are over 65 years of age – although anybody is vulnerable.
No reputable organisation would ask for payment of a bill or debt using vouchers or gift cards. You should never reveal the codes on vouchers or gift cards you have purchased apart from entering them on official websites as full or part payment for goods or services.
If you have been a victim of a voucher / gift card scam
- Report it to Action Fraud, the UK’s national fraud reporting centre by calling 0300 123 20 40 or by visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk. If you are in Scotland, contact Police Scotland on 101.
- Report it to your relevant bank or payment card provider immediately. You will find out how to do so by looking on their websites.
If you’ve experienced cybercrime, you can contact the charity Victim Support for free and confidential support and information.