NORTH Ayrshire residents are being warned to be on their guard against fraudsters who trick people into paying fake debts or buying iTunes gift cards.

Irvine police have hit out at this ‘increasing trend’ that is travelling throughout the UK.

One woman, who does not wish to be named, was contacted and told that she owed money before being threatened unless she purchased gift cards totalling the amount she was said to owe.

Luckily, family members were able to intervene before any purchases were made but others have not been so lucky and the number of similar crimes being reported runs in to the hundreds.

Inspector Jim McMillan, of Ayrshire Police Division, said: “iTunes vouchers can be easily redeemed and sold on - this is why fraudsters are now moving onto this as a method of collecting money from victims.

“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 over the phone.

“We have had incidents reported in North Ayrshire recently and are raising awareness on the issue in an effort to prevent further people falling victim to this scam. We are appealing to everyone, including shop staff, to look out for the more vulnerable in our communities and to contact us if they believe they or someone else may have fallen victim to scams.”

Victims are being contacted in a variety of methods by fraudsters and are told they owe an outstanding debt or are due a refund. In the hundreds of cases reported to Action Fraud in the past month, the fraudsters all ask for payment in iTunes gift card voucher codes.


- HMRC and other Government Departmemts will never use texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ever ask for payment in this way.

- Reputable companies won’t look for an advance payment to secure a refund or competition win and certainly won’t look for payment of any fees in iTunes vouchers.

- Telephone numbers and text messages can easily be spoofed. You should never trust the number you see on your telephones display.

- If you receive a suspicious cold call, end it immediately. To find out more about common scams and reporting fraud visit the Action Fraud website here.