Durham Constabulary are asking the public to warn their elderly relatives and friends about an iTunes gift card fraud after a couple from Consett were scammed out of £3,000. The couple, who are 87 years old and live in Delves Lane, were contacted by a male saying he was from the Inland Revenue (HMRC) and a debt of £3000 needed to be settled, the victim was repeatedly contacted and convinced that payment needed to be made or court proceedings would be started. The victim visited a supermarket and purchased hundreds of pounds of iTune cards, as instructed,  believing this was an acceptable means of payment, the card voucher numbers were passed to the fraudster over the telephone transferring the value, a family member realised what was happening and prevented further loss. PC Alan Patterson of Consett Neighbourhood Team said: “The victim is a genuine, honest person who has managed his finances carefully all his life, he was worried about a debt and has followed the instructions of the fraudster on the phone”. PC Patterson added “The victim in this case is heartbroken and blaming himself for being taken in by a persuasive and forceful caller, he didn’t understand iTunes and thought it was a modern method of payment, this may be one of the reasons criminals are targeting the older generation. “I would urge people reading this to make sure their grandparents and elderly relatives are aware of this and make sure they don’t become victims themselves.” DS Tony Murray from Durham’s fraud team added: “Although the elderly and vulnerable are being targeted, anyone can be a victim of this type of crime as the criminals are sophisticated and well scripted, they socially engineer and manipulate victims and sometimes know personal details about the victim, this is dangerous as it enables them to sound and look genuine and will pretend to be HMRC, Banks, Police or any business you deal with.” “Never assume a phone call, text, voicemail or email is genuine. The home telephone is a key enabler of fraud, if you receive a call, even if they know your name and account number, Hang Up on fraud. “Never transfer money as a result of cold calls, victims of fraud in the County are being asked to send money via many methods including bank transfers, Western Union and MoneyGram. Do not send money as a result of a phone call or other communication. For further information visit https://takefive-stopfraud.org. uk/ Action Fraud are offering the following advice in order to protect yourself: •HMRC will never use calls or texts to tell you about a tax rebate or penalty or ever ask for payment in this way. •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 report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use the online fraud reporting tool on the Action Fraud website.