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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 How to Avoid a Scam

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit
Scam Tags:  Gift Card Scams

Comments

On Monday I got scam from the IRS they made me buy some iTunes cards 6 of them $500 each I gave them $3000
So iTunes it's not doing nothing about all these scamming is there a way we can sue iTunes ? For all these that is happening

But it's not ITunes fault, they aren't responsible.

My husband was taken for $4000.00 in iTunes gift cards. Scammer were threatening him over the phone. He was scared and not thinking straight. No chance in getting our money back said the police.

Omg how sad I had never heard about these before that's why I was so confused and the bad think is that I was by myself nobody to talk to

Yeah, my husband fell for this yesterday, got the message, figured he'd "handle it". $1800 in ITunes gifts cards, they got 3 of the 4 cards cashed before my husband was able to get to Apple. Hopefully because he used the American Express card and they are launching a fraud investigation, maybe we won't owe that on our credit card. And he IS still alive but I could kill him especially since we get probably 2 of those messages a week and I have told my husband previously to leave the answering machine alone since he listens to messages, doesn't write them down and then forgets to tell me. I also have worked for attorneys my whole life and was AT my office yesterday when he decided to go ahead and buy those cards because of the threat of being arrested. The worst part? I was laid off from a 15 year job with an attorney because the IRS had levied his bank account my paycheck came out of, then levied what he thought was an unknown account. I used to tell my husband all the time about the agent coming to the office, about the bank levies, the registered mail. Yet he went ahead and caved to some jerk on the phone and didn't even call me. I could kill him.

Since this scam has been going on for years using iTunes cards. One would think that Apple with all of their computer skills would be able to set up a program to monitor any large consecutive redeems into an account. 2k, 4k, 10k redeems in a matter of minutes. Not normal and they should be able to be flagged as suspicions.

Retailers should also have warning signs telling of these scams posted where these types of cards are sold to help protect the consumer. Speaking from my own account of being scammed for $4000.00 going for another $6000.00 when the manager of the seconds store came out and told me of the scam.

She made it a policy on her own to get managers approval on any large gift card purchases. When speaking with corporate I said she should be commended and asked why this was not a corporate policy at all stores. Find it hard to believe that Apple cannot trace the money or I.P.s of these scammers. They have to lead somewhere.

Thank you for sharing your comment. Please also report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

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

Bridget, do you work for the FTC? If so, could you please contact me? I am an attorney in NJ. Thank you.

This page explains how to contact the FTC.

My sister works in administration of a large well known pharmacy. These cards are sold there.

They post signs advising people of scams.
They verbally warn them of scams when people purchase larger amounts.

Most of them do not listen and have a "what do you know" attitude before hanging themselves anyway.
Stupid is often engrained and not so easily cured....

Advance Cash America sent me an email talking about I owed them 986 dollars from August 2013. I sent in an email saying I would pay 200 they wanted an iTunes gift card from Apple their partner company. I could not pay so they sent an email talking about they was going to file a lawsuit against me for small claims court they have emails that I had sent saying I would pay. Now they sent another email talking about they will seize my bank account. And sue me. I sent another email trying to make arrangements. A few hours later I looked at my bank statement there company was not on it.

If you’re not shopping at the iTunes store, you shouldn’t be paying with an iTunes gift card.

Please file a complaint with the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

My 85 year old mother was scammed for $4,000. I young man called her, claiming to be her grandson (my son) and said that he was in the Dominican Republic and that he was in trouble. He begged her not to tell me (his mother)and that he needed the money right away because he had been in an accident. My mother, being a kind person, helped out her "grandson" to the tune of $4000 to a scammer. He said he needed the money in itunes cards.

People beware that there are low life scumbags out there preying on kind, old people claiming to be loved-ones in need.

Apple needs to step up to the plate and reimburse every single one of the people that have been ripped off by this scam! Apple is a multi-billion dollar corp and should be held liable for not putting better controls on their products - especially after there have been several hundreds (if not thousands) of complaints.

My mother has spoken with an Apple rep and the local law enforcement (and has a case number). So, she is taking the necessary steps she needs. Apple needs to also start taking necessary steps to keep this fraud from hurting individuals and protect those who do not ways and means to recover from this loss.

This isn't Apple's responsibility. This is happening with all gift cards. Don't blame one company for something that isn't their fault. It's the system of gift cards and people who fall for it without "thinking" about how silly the situation is.

It is their responsibility to warn, and not in nearly invisible print on the back of a card. They should warn in legible print and iTunes should provide a large sign to all vendors who sell the iTunes cards.

So if someone runs a scam using United States Postal Service money orders would you blame the USPS for not stepping up to the plate and reimbursing people?

I just got scammed buy Facebook contractor saying they can reactivate my account for 200$ but only through itune card. Still not back on. Bastards

Person that posted several messages ago is correct store does not refund on prepaid cards. We have a sign warning customers of scams but people are notorious for not reading what they buy. We have started asking customers when they buy iTunes cards if they know the person they are sending to and we tell them of the scams going on. Sometimes they listen and thank us a few claim they know what they are doing and buy them anyway.

There are a lot of complaints from people who state the vendors of the cards should be responsible for the fact they got suckered. They complain there should be "protections".

There are "protections". It's called common sense. The vendors are not the ones at fault. Period.

i was contacted by a loan company after i filled out a pay day loan on tapjoy, he had all my info including ss and bank info, said i qualified for a loan up to 10k i said i can use 3000. he said there is an insurance co that will guarantee loan since there is no cosigner, its at 6% interest, 24 month loan and it cost $160 to be paid by itunes, i asked why itunes he said because its instant . i checked into them more, they have a website pbc bank, pbcloans.. is this legit?

Sounds like a scam. Please report what happened at FTC.gov/complaint. The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Same here in NJ approved 5000 dollar loan but they need $250 I tunes card to cover fdic insurance I case I default on payment

I just got scammed 1.400.00 can any one help me how I get this money refund

You could contact Apple Customer Support. They may be able to help you get a refund from the retail card seller when funds are still on the cards. Apple Customer Support may ask you to provide a police report and other documents, like a receipt for the cards. Apple may not make refunds directly, but may refer you back to the retailer, and work to contact the retailer about a refund.

Please report your experience to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The details you provide will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

I was scammed out of 2000.00 and I was let go from my job recently. I don't get benefits other than my small retirement from my last job. My daughter of 25 warned me and showed me evidence that this was a scam. I didn't listen till I paid so much money. She even called them and asked for what branch of the us government and they said the treasury and gave a email that my daughter saw as a fake immediately. Sadly some of that money she loaned me and she can barely afford it due to her going through nursing school. Now I might loose everything I worked for and very soon. I can't even afford to take a lain out nor could I get one due to not able to pay it off. I am worried and my future is bleak. I don't know what to do.

Thank you for sharing your experience. Please go to ftc.gov/complaint to report this. The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

In addition, when it comes to dealing with debt, you have options. Find out what you can do, and get tips for avoiding scams. Please see the FTC articles, Coping with Debt and Choosing a Credit Counselor.

Unfortunately i became victim of this today. Is there a way to block the itunes card number that i gave them to over phone. I already reported this incident Federal Trade commission

You could contact Apple Customer Support. They may be able to help you get a refund from the retail card seller when funds are still on the cards. Apple Customer Support may ask you to provide a police report and other documents, like a receipt for the cards. Apple may not make refunds directly, but may refer you back to the retailer, and work to contact the retailer about a refund.

I got a similar call from a 911 number and then a genuine IRS number, he himself showed me the # on IRS website. I was not aware that the IRS would never call. Then he trapped me to walk out of my workplace drive my car to an address he gave. The address was bestbuy and then he told me I need to buy apple gift cards. I was so much into all of it, my brain was blocked and I did not realize this was a scam. I brought the gift cards blindly just so that I wanted to stay away from legal complications. I have lost a huge amount($8000). I feel stupid and I seriously want these scammers arrested so that people who work hard every single day are not ripped off.

I got a phone call today saying that they were from Microsoft and I had errors and warnings that needed to be removed from my computer and how my computer network was compromised by hackers. It was a Scam. They said I need to go get a $200 itunes card to pay for computer network protection for 3 years which cost 199.00. I did not do it!! The call came from Washington the number is 206-430-5057. I spoke with Larry Lee and Ron. I am sure these are all fake names! Please be careful!!!

Yes they called me today on the same way.Unfortunately I was convicted and I went to Wallgreence to buy iTunes cards.Luckyl store manager immidiately noticed me this is a scamming. They wanted me to pay 2.3279 dollars. And them I called local police department they directed me Web site www.ic3.gov to complaint

Hello do the us federal grant called me saying I get $8000 deposited in my account each month and I won't have to pay it back. He said its sponsored by iTunes. Now he wants me to transfer the money through Walgreens to pay the security fee I have to pay half of 800 to get 4000

He also said that I haven't heard about these benefits before and that means it's not a scam is that true?

I had to call various numbers too

This sounds like a scam. The federal government is not giving people grants, or putting money in people's bank accounts. If someone says you will get money, but you have to give him money first, it's probably a scam. If you send him money, you will probably lose it. If you tell him your bank account number, he can take money out.

They are trying this with me now. Call this number 206-801-1795 Ask for Ryan Butler or Mike Thomas. They claim they are with US government grant. They say they know i was scammed and they trying to help me get my funds.

Some scammers make a list of people they ripped off, then call them back and pretend they'll help you 'recover what you lost.' It's called a refund and recovery scam.

If someone says they're from a government agency that will recover your lost money if you pay them, report them immediately to the FTC.

Just got told by advance America for a loan of $5,000 to purchase a iTunes card for $300 and my loan would be deposited in 45 mins or less. Glad I caught this thread. Florida phone#. Bob Cooper,Mike Smith were names used,all sounded middle eastern.

Ok I have a very important question I got called telling me I got approved for a government grant that I dont havecto pay back in the amount of 7,000 the second call was 9,000 the three called was 7,800 . The first and second call was never mention about purchasing a $250 itunes gift card to receive the money. I confuse on if its a scam or not. I had ask then to email my documents letting my see this government approval in my name, they have not excepted my request for that .

It's probably a scam. The government is not giving out grants.

The people who called you are probably scammers who want you to send iTunes codes, so they can use them or resell them. Once you tell someone the code from an iTunes card, he takes control of it. You can't get your money back.

If you tell him your bank account number because he says he'll deposit money, he can take money from your account. If you send him your personal information or copies of your documents he could use that for identity theft.

This article about government grant scams  tells you more.

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE EVER GIVE OUT ANY PERSONAL INFORMATION TO SOMEONE CONTACTING YOU - IF THEY ARE CONTACTING YOU, THEY SHOULD HAVE YOUR INFO.DO NOT EVER PAY PAY FOR ANYTHING IN ADVANCE- EVER!!!!

Here is a few numbers claimed to be IRS giving grants to to people who have paid taxes on time & want to give a refund. they claim that you have money coming to you & all you have to do is buy i tunes cards, scratch off the back of the card and they will wire money to your bank. DON'T DO IT_- HERE ARE THE PHONE NUMBERS OF RECEIVED CALLS 646-582-2989, 347-778-2537 EXT 679 & 646-653-3284 Ray was the contact.PLEASE DON'T BE A VICTIM OF THIS SCAM` I Hope they get caught!!!

I got scammed by the IRS scam using iTunes gift cards. I've spent over 9 hours calling Apple, spoken to 10 people, and nothing. They won't do a thing. They allow this to continue because the cards are used to purchase their products. So, in the end, they are the ones that get the money. There has to be something all of us can collectively do....Class-action lawsuit? They told me they get thousands of these calls a day and yet do nothing to stop this problem. Imagine the amount of money this equates to. Thousands of calls a day, thousands of dollars spent buying their cards and spent buying their products. Of course they aren't going to do anything to stop it...they're making money off the scam at the expense of countless victims. They make me sick. I will never buy an Apple product again.

I'm sorry this happened to you. You can help law enforcement by reporting to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations. It helps law enforcement see the size of a problem.

You may want to report what happened to the corporate customer service staff of the store where you bought the card.

JUST happened to me yesterday! a "RON MARTIN, Senior Agent with the Treasury Department, Badge # : IRM 7747." He called me from :206-855-3080 and gave me a "direct #" : 202-275-2273.

My 23 year old daughter just was subject to this Terrorist scam. They had her on the phone for 2-3 hours and despite her knowning that it wasn't feeling right, threatened her to the point of having her drive down to the grocery store and get $800 (all the money she has) put onto 2 iTunes gift cards.

Every time she tried to get off the phone (to call us) they threatened 7 years in jail, fines going from $3K up to $70K. They were still on the phone when she drove to my office and came in nearly a wreck as they continued to threaten her that she still needed the balance of the money.

My husband and I spent the rest of the morning/afternoon with her and the police, the bank, the store, iTunes support. iTunes representative stated that the money had transferred to China. She also stated that this was her 8th call like this today. Pure terrorism and theft. We will file a complaint but the county authorities stated that they will do nothing realistically. How can we help shut this down and put these people away. Apple needs to figure a way to protect their cards now that thieves have figured a way to use their cards. I'm sure they do not want this publicity. How can we, the victims help?

 You can help law enforcement by reporting to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The details you give go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations nationwide. When people file reports, it helps law enforcement spot patterns and trends in the scams.

If your daughter shared any personal information and is worried a scammer might use it, she can read about warning signs of identity theft.

You may also want to report this to the corporate customer service department of the store where your daughter bought the cards, or ask the company to educate front line clerks about the scam.

If your daughter wants to share her story with local media, you could contact your local media’s call for action lines.

I had a similar experience yesterday where they had me on the phone and rush to CVS to buy itunes cards. It was a Seattle number which when we called back was a police station/call center in Seattle though during the conversation he said he was in Texas and that a Texas officer will come to arrest you for interrogation. Luckily my daughter called my husband who came from work to stop me from sending the numbers. We called itunes and CVS helpline to get the refund and we are still waiting for them to investigate and process it. If you have not sent the numbers, please call itunes and get the cards cancelled/deactivated and then call CVS to give them the card numbers and process the refund. We went to the police dept and they asked us to flag my SSN so that they cannot use it for further fraud. Horrible experience...

You can find out how to protect your personal information at IdentityTheft.gov. You can report identity theft, or get tips on how to place a credit freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports.

YESTERDAY I JUST RECEIVED A CALL FROM A CASH ADVANCE GUY STATING I WAS APROVED FOR A LOAN 3500 ..FROM AMARILLO TX KEVIN,AKA DAVID WHO KNOWS BUT HE SUGGESTED I PUT 150$ ON AN I-TUNES CARD AND CALL HIM BACK AND GIVE HIM CODE NUMBER ON BACK NOF CARD ...AND I MEAN THIS GUY IS BOLD KEEPS CALLING ME TO SEE IF IVE LEFT I TOLD HIM HE WAS A SAM AND NEVER TO CALL ME AGAIN I HUNG UP BUT HE HAD ALL MY INFO MY BANK INFO AND ALL THAT 806-680-3006..BEAWARE......

This foreigner barley can speak english ,called my co worker just now at work she would get 12k, then offered 13k, if she would buy an itunes card, cause banks only allowed to put so much grant money in the bank for her school. First duh buy an itunes card to get 13k.

Microsoft will never call one of their customers

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