Scammers push people to pay with iTunes gift cards

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One thing we know about scammers — they want money, and they want it fast. That’s why, whatever the con they’re running, they usually ask people to pay a certain way. They want to make it easy for themselves to get the money — and nearly impossible for you to get it back.

Their latest method? iTunes gift cards. To convince you to pay, they might pretend to be with the IRS and say you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay back taxes right now. Or pose as a family member or online love interest who needs your help fast. But as soon as you put money on a card and share the code with them, the money’s gone for good.

If you’re not shopping at the iTunes store, you shouldn’t be paying with an iTunes gift card. Other payment methods scammers might ask for include Amazon gift cards, PayPal, reloadable cards like MoneyPak, Reloadit, or Vanilla, or by wiring money through services like Western Union or MoneyGram. Government offices won’t require you to use these payment methods.

If you get targeted by a scam like this, report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Want to know more about avoiding scams? Read 10 Ways to Avoid Fraud

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

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I just got burnt by advance America got me for 241.00 then wanted more for other fees. Told them no all of the sudden I didn't qualify!

I AM SO GLAD that I did my research first and saw your reply!! RIGHT NOW someone from Advance Cash America is trying to get me to pay $481 and telling me I will be taken to court and the papers have already been filed. Said the debt was from 2013. I almost fell for it until they said to buy an iTune card. OMG! This is AWFUL that people do this!

Please report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. Give as many details as you can about the call. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

the fbi and local police are leaving it up to the irs to do their own investigation.

Just got hit by one today. Same story. U have to pay $678 or we will file a warrent for arrest. I was going to make it in 3 payments but got skeptical when it said buy an iTunes card. So I started looking on the internet to see if there were scams like this. Glad I found this blog.

I'm glad you avoided the scam. Please report what happened at FTC.gov/complaint. The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

The comments you post here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database.

I tried reporting my complaint but couldn't pass the amount I've spent.

Hello, do not understand what u mean by "couldn't pass the amount u've spent"

Anyhow, i too was a recent victom and did not think QUICK ENOUGH to search online for iTune/gov grant scams❗My mistake cost me $250 upon providing "Nick Sharma of Federal Reserve Bank Accounting Mgr" with the cards' serial code revealed upon sratching off the silver❗

How do u get your money back

You don’t

Same thing happened to me today!
I feel so stupid but when threatened I let fear take over and purchased $300 in ITunes cards. I reported it. Out $300 but lesson learned unfortunately too late.

I was asked to get a 50 dollar one for an antivirus. I didn't fall for it, they aren't used for antivirus.

Right now on Google plus, there's a person of interest who says he's in the military in Libya at a camp fighting for freedom. He also says he has millions in the bank, big houses and fancy cars in Kentucky. He says he needs the iTunes card with at first $25.00,$50.00 and then $100.00 so he can file paperwork known as supposed leave of absence to come be with me. Then the scam goes further to where he wants to meet me and talk about opening up a car dealership, buying a house, buying a fancy car and what vacation to take. For someone who says they have millions how can they need my little income? I researched this iTune subject and haven't sent anything but what bothers me most are the words they say,"trust me."

So similar to me, he is supposedly in Qatar with us marines and needs itune cards for music and books because he is bored. They get quite angry about it but don’t give up easily

Can’t believe I fell for this. This person claims to be from Manhattan, NewYork and is stationed in Yemen. He is in the navy on s secret mission & claims to have been involved in recent strike on Syria! He said he was divorced with a young 14 year old son and he was an only child whose parents died in a car accident when he was 7. He claimed he was looking for love again. I can’t believe I believed this!!! There were red flags that made me wonder, especially his use of the English language, like he didn’t use the proper words sometimes, but was very good at sweet talking his way out of any questions I would ask or change subject. Recently he asked for me to help him by buying an iTunes card for $400 for his son for things he needs for his studies in London. That was another red flag, so I started doing some research while I stalled. Like an idiot, I fell for this guy, but was careful never to give any personal information. I met him by his friend request on Facebook, which I eventually accepted. He began communicating through messenger, but kept pressing me to give him my regular text message number or my email address. I didn’t do that, but eventually agreed to get google hangouts to communicate with him. That was really important to him! He continually told me not to tell my grown children or anyone about him because his mission was secret.is all of this a lie???a scam! I am educated, retired, and should know better, but not very tech savy. What should I do?

Wow your situation just like mine I meet this guy on instagram and told me he station in Yemen so nice and very charming and we never got into talking about gift card until later but he stated he wanna to listen to music on ITunes so I bought a 25 dollar one cuz I know the scam and how do I really know it’s him. I mean 35 not going to hurt me so I did but now makes me wonder after reading everything ..?!?

This may be the same scam , I dont know.. someone on Instagram using the name of a Fitness Model/gym owner just now asked me "I was actually going to ask if you could help with a $450.00 ITunes card, I need to pay for an important editing,photo online,but my card kept saying Not supported!" Ive not answered this person , but she is getting a bit pushy... so could this be a scam ?

Can you tell me what name he used what his sons name was? Sounds just like the guy I was talking to.he said he needed an itune card to update his phone.

You can't update your phone with an iTunes card. The only place you can use an iTunes card is at the iTunes store, to buy online music, apps or books.

THIS PERSON BY THE NAME OF DAVID MILLER IS CALLING ME FROM 781-990-2447, SAYING I OWE A CASH ADVANCE AND I NEED TO GO TO WALMART AND GET ITUNES CARD NOT ONE BUT 3 CARDS WITH DIFFERENT AMOUNTS. THE ARE CALLING MY JOB AND TIEING UP ALL OF MY WORK LINES. MY BOSS IS SO UPSET ABOUT THIS. IAM JUST GONNA GET THE CARDS SO THEY CAN STOP CALLING ME HARRASING ME. ITS REALLY STRESSING ME OUT AND EMBARASSING

The FTC has tips on blocking unwanted calls. If you pay a scammer one time, he might call again and try to get more money from you.

Can you please tell me this guy's name. I am in a similar situation

Can u please tell me what this guys name is? I am in a similar situation as I have been talking to someone that I have met on instagram for almost a year now. He claims that he has two children and that he is a widow, and his sister is raising his children while he is stationed at a military camp up in Ohio.

Do know his name my mom is being scammed. He added her on Facebook and is no longer on her page same situation widowed with two adult daughters. He claims he lives in Arizona from Pennsylvania. He also is currently not in the country needs the iTune cards to call her. All we have is a first name of Chis

You can't use an iTunes card to make phone calls. Whoever asked for an iTunes card is not using it to make phone calls. The only place to use an iTunes card is at the iTunes store, to buy online music, apps or books.

Please tell me his name sounds exactly what is happening to me..

Kendrick Cot, is the name my scammer is going by, sweet talker using stolen identity and pictures.

Dose his name happen to be Chauncey hannedyer?? I believe i might be the next

What did his picture look like?
I gave a similar person currently messaging me. Well built, military short hair style. Claims to be German but looks like a “in the movies, stereotypical ‘Russian’”.
Says he’s on assignment over in another country. Saying he needs $50 iTunes card to keep his internet service up so we can continue to communicate/message each other.....sigh....so frustrating

Same here.. military man needs a card to update his laptop bit he has money in oil reserves and will be out in 3 months

I was scammed by this guy. He showed me lots of pictures of his house and cars. We talked a few months and I was gullible enough to trust him with my credit card online account. He deposited 7,000 on my account and ask for iTunes cards. I sent him 3500 in cards. Needless to say the deposit he made was cancelled and invalid. I'm out 3500 and feel terrible.

I got very close to being scammed with the itunes scam, but when i thought about it i was like well wait a minute, does all of this make sense. I met a guy online and he claimed to give me 1500 a month, then today he goes "oh i did tell you you have to use itunes. I was like uhh no that is a scam and needless to say he didnt know i knew my reseach by having a friend that works for apple and knows everything about the company and products.

This guy just scammed my co- worker. He used the name Brian Brochu. He sent her love poems. Her credit card showed that he made a payment so she sent itune card. Then payment was invalid.

Would the name be Gray Moore. Has daughter in boarding school. Is on an oil platform in the ocean

Can you tell me how he looks? Someone contacted me by Instagram telling me that he is a Marine Engineer and that he is on an oil platform in Ireland. He lives in Washington, State and has a 19-year-old daughter

Oh my gosh this is exactly what happened to me!!

This scammers got me for 1400.00 +. They said they were from Microsoft Corporation to pay off a $300 warranty for life. Dum me they also told me that a Virus was in my computer creating errors. I trusted them since they said they were from Microsoft I let them access my computer. Of course I fell for it. They threatened to lock up my computer, which they did anyway. So BEWARE for these scammers saying they are Microsoft Corporation technicians. The name of the tehnician I talked to was Richard Smith. I reported it to Microsoft and filed a complaint and to the Attorney Generals from Texas and California. I need to file to the FTC too. I learned my lesson the hard way.

Wow richard smith. I was talking to a so called military man named smith Richards he said he is in Egypt on peace mission. First asked me for $760 for a ticket home because he missed me and just could not be without me I said no because I was already scammed by a man using the name Markham Latin oh that person used me but any way. Sir Richards then said military is cutting off the internet and he needed a itune card stupid me knowing I already got scammed sent one then a month later he says it is now used up if I could send an Amazon card for same reason I said no so a week after that he said if I didn't send an other itune card we will not be able to communicate so I said ok because I am not sending anymore then I know he blocked me witch is fine but a week after I get a text from. A different name and a boy saying he is the son of sir Richards this is all texts no calls ever I never heard ether of there voices the son said his dad told him to check on me and if I would do the itune I said I was not working and couldn't

I have an employee who is going through this. He has made payments to them. The problem is , they are calling my work number (where he works). They call 1,000 times until he makes arrangements with them. The FTC can't do anything (we filed a complaint). They stated it was a "third party". I can't have my company numbers being tied up and employees being harassed.

You can also report problems with a debt collector to your state Attorney General’s office and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Under federal law, a debt collector can't harass the debtor or the third parties it contacts by making repeated phone calls. This article about debt collection lists more practices that are off limits for a debt collector. 

This is 100% happening everywhere!! Today I got in a call with a guy claiming to be from the IRS. He demanded payment ASAP for alleged back taxes from 2012 which I had but thought I had paid in full. They were totally insane pushy, telling me if we get disconnected in the phone he'd call the cops. Well I hung up. Ten mins later I get a call from the local PD. Freaked me out enough to call back and say listen. Why do I pay with iTunes cards?? Said it was the fed govt way of collecting payment. Then was put in with another "officer" he was even worse saying I'll be arrested in front of my kids ( this whole thing went down on my truck Bluetooth) finally had enough and next call to me was from a penitentiary in Columbus Ohio. Both times the scammers used real numbers from real PD's. Be careful. Btw.... They all sounded foreign yet used names like John Adams... Mike Black.... Be careful...

I got woken up from a call stating almost the exact same thing. Said if I hang up I would be arrested the next day. They told me to go down to Busy Best or somewhere that I could by an Itunes card. I fell for it. I was half asleep, he even said the Department of Homeland Security was on the line but I could not talk to them. Like you I had back taxes and thought I had paid them but was not sure. They first asked for 1250 or again I would be arrested the next day. I have a bad heart and started a bout of tachycardia about 140+ beats per minutes. And like an idiot I fell for it. But said I only had 250 dollars to my name and they said that was ok they will not forward to local police for an arrest warrent. I feel so dumb. I should know better. I do security audits for a living, has my CISA and 1 year shy of my Doctorate. But I am semi-retired and in my 50's . I used to worry when my Dad was alive of him falling for these kind of things. Oh at first they asked me 3 things, have I ever had a traffic ticket, have I ever filed bankruptcy and something else. Well yes I have, but everyone can get at that info. I run background checks on my daughter's boyfriends there is so much info flying around out there in the net. No more facebook for me, only used it for picks but your birthday is out there, if you ever turn on location it will imprint that on the picture so you can take a picture of your burger and you friends can see what you ate and where ate it at. I just got off the phone with the local PD and I personally know the Chief and he said no way is that not a scam. Plus having a wife pass recently I had no one to discuss this with either. And yes they were all foreign but had names like Bob and Mark, and when I said I want it escalated I got someone else and I think it was the same person.

Be careful - oh I also asked them how do they know they have the right person. There were 3 with the same name as me in this house at one time, as I am a JR and so Is my son and we all lived together until my Dad passed at one time. I would like to change my number but hate to because it was the business line they called and I don't want to miss out on a client.

And why did it not set off a bell in my mind when he said it must be a ITunes card.

Okay - I vented and told my story not I have to try and relax.

It just happened to me his id # was 694291350 .said he was from microsoft.told me to stay on hold and gopurchase I tune cards in the amount of $100.00 3 of them and dontdon't tell them what they are for.

IRS will NEVER ever call you first! They only call after having sent out at least two written notices via US post office and then only if you have ignored those notices. If they threaten you with things like they will call the cops on you tell them do it. Or tell them hey I will meet you at the pf in 10 minutes as they are only a block from me. I am turning myself in

I just scammed myself with $500 bu USfcash advance.. I feel so bad and dumb,. This person got me good with the itune card now I don't how to get my money back I almost paid another $150 but something told me not to pay and research and this is where I am now in short$500

H I was told that I was to receive a government grant for $9600. They said that I owed Missouri tax $500 before they could release my funds. When I pay the $500 they asked me for additional $200 to activate transaction. I was out for $800. Mark Williams was the scammer. The calls show up from NY 646-680-0872 ext 117.

This same exact named person just scammed my friend out of $650 using the same exact story!!! We just filed reports with local enforcement and the federal trade commission yesterday. Then I took my friend to lunch and they call her back threatening to send federal officers if she didn't pay the remainder of $300 dollars within 48 hours...ruthless!!

IVE DONE THE SAME THING. THEY TRIED TO MAKE ME BUY AND ITUNES GIFT CARD AND PUT 200 $ THEN THE 8,200 WAS MINE. WHAT A SCAM!!!

That just happened to me today an I barked that mans ear off I payed $230.00 I'm glad I stopped after that an research up on the scams after the store manager told that there scams going on.

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