Apple steps up to help iTunes CRA scam victims
Published Monday, September 26, 2016 3:58PM PDT Last Updated Monday, September 26, 2016 5:22PM PDT
Apple says they are stepping in to help a Surrey woman who fell for a Canada Revenue Agency phone scam that dupes people into buying gift cards.
Eva Obida received a call from someone claiming to be with the CRA who told her she owed money on her taxes and that an arrest warrant had been issued in her name. She was asked to buy thousands of dollars in iTunes gift cards and then provide the caller with the activation codes.
“I was so shocked,” she said. The caller stayed on the line with Obida while she purchased the cards, but she eventually realized something was amiss and didn’t provide the codes.
Unfortunately, she was now stuck with $1,200 in non-refundable gift cards.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) says they’ve recently seen an increase in complaints about what they call the CRA iTunes scam, which usually involves a fraudster impersonating an agent from the CRA. The CAFC says 381 people have fallen victim to the scam this year alone, with losses totaling more than $1.7 million.
The Vancouver Police say many people are often too embarrassed to admit they’ve fallen victim to this scam, so the reports they receive could just be the tip of the iceberg.
Obida’s friend Desmond Cross initially contacted Apple on her behalf and was told they were aware of the scam but were unable to take the cards back.
But a day after CTV News contacted the company about Obida’s issue, they sent an email offering to help.
In a statement to CTV, Apple said: “If there are still funds on a victim’s cards, Apple will work with our resellers to help ensure funds are returned.”
Apple also says they are working with the card retailers to help prevent customers from being scammed and that retail employees at Apple stores are on alert. Apple also has a statement on its website warning customers about the scam.
The CAFC says that if you are asked to pay for any service or product with an iTunes card, it’s a scam. It also suggests contacting the CRA directly to ask if you actually owe any back taxes or are entitled to a refund and not to provide any personal or banking information.
Unfortunately, if you’ve already provided the caller the activation codes on the cards, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get your money back as most of the scammers work overseas. Victims of this scam should report the fraud to the police and the CAFC.