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.

Hi I want to say thank you for letting me know that you cant update your phone using iTunes card. I was a sucker for a military guy. Then I found this new guy what I thought would be my better half. He too saying all that you want to hear and build a relationship with you and then oh by the way I am in Africa and I need a iTunes card to update my phone so I can get to my apps on my phone so I can give this company money. I cant access it with out iTunes and internet. My alarm bells went off amd when I told him no I cant. He just says you my only hope yeah right I dont think so. So thank you for not letting fall for this scam yet again.

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.

This guy tells me he needs iTunes card to have enough data to keep in touch with me. I don’t get why he’d want the iTunes card if he can’t actually use it to obtain money. I only give $25 cards, he keeps asking for $50 or more but I haven’t given in! Otherwise he requested $ thru Money Gram and Western Union and Ria. Also had someone deposit a large check into my account and had me cash it in and now it’s come back “account closed” so I owe my bank $4000. Mad at myself for falling for that!

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.

This sounds like the chap who has been communicating with me for just over a month. Friendship request on fb followed by messages. Then lovely caring emails which I was stupid enough to believe until he asked me to purchase a 200 iPhone card so he could upgrade his phone. I told him I couldn't afford it as only income was pension. So then he asked for 100 iPhone card instead. Alarm bells ringing I emailed him to say I would not use Amazon or eBay as someone had tried to hack in to my account shortly after accepting his friendship request. Needless to say I haven't heard from him since.

Your scammer is exactly like mine. He said he needs iTunes cards to upgrade his phone every week. He sends Romantic love messages every morning and night. He then talks about the future and kids. Then said he can’t wait to marry me after his lawsuit. He can’t call me because hackers would track him and his line can be trace. So we only texted through His Google Voice Number and Hangout Apps, which Google doesn’t want to help. There are so many victims got scam through google. Hangout App is a Dating Scam App for scammers to use. I believed him and sent him substantial amounts through bank wiring, Walmart money transfer. Can FBI track ITunes Cards that already used by Scammers? FBI can do more about this, they have a system to utilize it. They need to start working harder and start putting these guys in JAIL.

I’ve gotten non stop messages on instagram. Original request came on Instagram and eventually led to Kik. Never shared my phone number nor any identifying information. His name is Kendrick Miguel Johnson, but started the conversation as his name just being Johnson. I’ve done google image reverse searches but none of his photos come up. Thinking it’s a scam because he offered to send money for the home I’m building but needed a steam card and ITunes card at $100 each to pay for a credit card that he’d put money on. I did not buy any of course but he touched on the gift cards every few conversations. I have photos of him... he’s advised he’s in construction but also owns a gym in Beverly Hills CA that his father left him. The name of the company is JSC Construction and his photos with his work shirt/attire reflect what he’s telling me.

I'm dealing with the guy says his name is Nick Patrick Scott Malone age 52 single dad with a daughter age 12. He says he's an only child and both his parents are deceased.
He says he's an engineer and he had to go to Germany for work for two weeks and it up going into 3 weeks claiming that he is sending a box of money that was found in a tunnel where they were working, and that he needed my email address to get the notice from the private FedEx.
I received an email which I did not open, that said that there is something there for me a package and that I need to verify my full name and address in order to have it delivered. I contacted FedEx they said they investigated and there was no package for me.
When I confronted supposedly Nick he said that is because it is a private FedEx and they do things differently.
I researched him and checked all data bases including purchasing Intelius which gives you information on people phone numbers Etc. He is nowhere in any database.
He had me buy two separate times, iTune cards at $100 each. Something about, to help set up his phone. I was not aware how to use iTune cards and that it doesn't do that.
after doing all my research I've asked him several times for his driver's license because when I asked him for his address the first time he gave me a bogus one that went to a Chase Bank near my home, and the second one to some place that was a trailer manufacturer home that was full of junk and crap everywhere. I went up to the place and talk to the kid who lived there and asked if Nick was there or his daughter he said nobody's there by this name and then told me what his last name is which I checked in the Intelius database which the kid was telling me the truth.
I immediately went to the sheriff department and filed this information. I'm continuing talking to this person because I want to catch him! I said I need to speak to his daughter who lives here in the states. I sent him a picture of the Junkie property that I was at that he claimed was his address that he gave me, which supposedly he lives in a big house which he still has a mortgage with his daughter.
Last night I asked for his daughter's phone number so I could talk to her, I never got it this morning he said he fell asleep, and he gave me a phone number and said this is his daughter's number to call her now. I put that number into the database Intelius, come to find out that number belongs to a deceased man that died in 1999.
I'm hoping with the iTune cards, that the police department or whoever does investigations will be able to track who cashed or use those serial numbers.

Does anybody know if that's fact can they track somebody by cashing in or using those numbers?

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

I think we talked to the same guy he was from New York in the same place had son to he actually showed me a pic we talked for awhile then he asked for money then iTunes card I refused the next morning I tried to txt him and he completely disappeared no sign of him becareful

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. 

Can you push this serious topic into action. This is a serious Crime. The FBI doesn’t help at all, unless we talk about millions of dollars and give them a $100,000 reward to investigate and arrest these bad guys. There are so many victims out there got Scam from iTunes Cards. I am one of the victim. He started to send me a chat message on Instagram, Then told me to download Hangout Apps and gave me a Google Voice number to text his cell and start to say he Falls in love and Wanted a future. A week later, I called him, Omg he sounded like an Indian, Middle East with strong accent that sounded awful, as he said he is a white guy from Matthatan New York. Then I hung up and he said his phone got hacks and he needs to get some iTunes card to upgrade the phone security. That’s why he changed his voice so hackers doesn’t know him bc he has a Lawsuit. (Apple does this? You can change a different voice on iPhone?) This is scary. So then I believed him. He then needs $300 iTunes Cards every week to upgrade his security, which I bought and spent substantial amounts for 5-6 months. During these months, he convinced me to send him some money for the Lawsuits , which I sent huge huge amounts that you would think how stupid I am sending him that much of money to help him. He is very convincing at asking for Money.
What can the FBI? Is this case too small for them to actually work hard on it? Can they track where the iTunes card were used, location, and methods, and what for? Does Apple asked their name and info when they use iTunes Cards?

If you sent money by wire transfer, you can report that to the wire transfer company. Call the Western Union Fraud Hotline at 800-448-1492 or the MoneyGram Customer Care Center at 1‑800‑926‑9400.

You can also report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

You can call Apple Support at 1-800-275-2273 to report what happened and ask questions about the cards.

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