Victim scammed on phone under false threat of police arrest

A MACKAY region resident has been scammed out of hundreds of dollars after they bought multiple iTunes cards while being falsely threatened with police arrest.

Mackay police Sergeant Nigel Dalton had a simple message for locals: "We (police) don't work this way".

"Picture the scene: You are at work and your own mobile rings. You check the boss is not looking and you swipe to answer. You put the phone to your ear (ducking behind you computer screen) and you hear a recorded message on your mobile stating it is an Australian government office and if you don't follow the instruction you could be arrested," he wrote to media.

"I have been in the police for a while and I have never heard of any officers dealing with people this way, so for me I would immediately identify this as either a prank caller or a scammer.

"However, not all of you have the same knowledge as me of how law enforcement works. So let this be a lesson, I'll let you in on a secret - we do not work this way."

Sgt Dalton detailed the story of how the recent victim was scammed.

"Recently, a sad story was reported to the police in the Mackay District where someone followed the instructions heard on the recorded message on their phone, to the letter," he wrote.

"The victim was told to visit several outlets that sold iTunes cards and was instructed to buy what totalled up to hundreds of dollars worth.

"All the time the victim was told to stay on the line and not tell anyone why they were being bought, if the victim did they were threatened that the court would impose a higher penalty for their actions.

"Two lessons: Again, we don't work this way. (And) If you are a trader or sales assistant watch out for possible victim who has been persuaded and threatened to buy large amount of iTunes (or similar) cards while talking on the phone. Maybe you could help stop a scammer."

Sgt Dalton said more details about this scam and other shady ventures could be found on the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network (ACORN) website.

It includes information about online scams and fraud, identity theft, attacks on computer systems and illegal or prohibited online content.

It's also worth checking out Scamwatch online.

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