Police are warning the public to be wary of fraudsters posing as tax officials attempting to trick people into making bogus payments.
A number of cases have been reported recently, in one case and older person lost a significant sum of money before police intervened.
Victims are being contacted in a variety of methods and, in some instances reported, the fraudsters ask for payment in iTunes gift card voucher codes because they can be easily redeemed and easily sold on.
The scammers don’t need the physical card to redeem the value and instead get victims to read out the serial code on the back of their card over the phone.
Superintendent Simon Walls said: “Police are urging members of the public to always air on the side of caution with any text, call, email or letter asking for payment or personal details in order to release money, refund fees, pay lottery wins or supply a holiday, giveaway or service," he said.
HMRC will never contact you by telephone and ask for payment of tax arrears by iTunes vouchers or similar payment methods.
“Scammers are inventive and can be very convincing, but each scam is designed to tempt you to drop your guard. If you are at all suspicious about a call that you receive, hang up and phone the organisation that the person is purporting to represent to check their authenticity. Ideally make the call from another telephone so you can be sure the original caller has not remained on the line.
“If you have received a call of this kind, or are concerned by the intent of unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101.”
Police have warned people living in north and west Belfast to be vigilant after people in these areas were targeted by bogus phone-calls, claiming to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
Victims were contacted by both male and female callers who claimed to represent HMRC. They said their records showed a sum of money was owed for unpaid taxes and it was an offence to refuse payment. They requested payment over the phone and asked for bank or credit card details demanding immediate payment.
If you have received a similar call, report it to police on the Action Fraud line on 0300 123 2040 to receive a crime reference number or use the online fraud reporting tool here.