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Scam alert — Woodbridge man swindled out of $4,000

Apple iTunes Gift Cards
Apple iTunes Gift Cards (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

WOODBRIDGE — An old scam is still alive — and just cost a Central Jersey man $4,000.

A 31-year-old man from Colonia received a phone call from a woman claiming to be from the IRS, according to Woodbridge Police Capt. Roy Hoppock. The woman told him he owed $4,000 in back taxes and threatened that a warrant would be issued for his arrest if the amount due was not paid, Hoppock said.

He received a second call that came up as being from 911, with the original caller conferenced in, giving him instructions to get $4,000 worth of iTunes cards from different convenience stores, Hoppock said. After purchasing the cards, he called back and gave the woman the PIN off each card, Hoppock said.

Upon hearing the man’s story, a friend told the man, he should report the incident to police, Hoppock said.

Hoppock said that the use of iTunes in phone scams is a step up from the similar use of Green Dot pre-paid Visa cards.

“With the iTunes, it’s just mind-boggling that they’re asking for that and people are falling for it,” Hoppock said.

“I’ve gotten a call from people claiming to be from the IRS and some of them are pretty good at it. They’re very strong and forceful and they catch you off guard,” Hoppock said.  “You can see somehow how these people might fall for it. When it goes to the iTunes part of it that should be the clue but people panic” under the threat of arrest, he said.

Hoppock said that another call was received from a resident about a scam from someone claiming to be from PSE&G, threatening to shut off the gas. The resident checked his account with PSE&G and found it to be in good standing.

MyCentralJersey.com reported another Woodbridge man fell victim to the scam in March and lost $500.

The FTC posted an alert last July that warned about the iTunes card scam.

“If anyone tells you to buy iTunes cards to pay the IRS, qualify for a grant, get a loan or bail out a family member, say ‘No.’ They’re trying to scam you. The only place to use an iTunes card is at the iTunes store, to buy online music, apps or books,” the alert reads.

“If you gave someone the code from an iTunes card and you think it was a scam, call Apple Support at 1-800-275-2273 right away (you may have to spend some time on hold). Tell them what happened and ask if they can disable the card,” the alert reads.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.

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