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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 10 Ways to Avoid Fraud

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

Yeah. This Itunes gift card thing is the newest scam. They claim to be with the US Government and tell you that you qualify for a 7800$ grant for the next 5 years. They get you to buy $500 gift cards for one payment after another and never actually let you get your grant money. They got me for over $2600. As a 66 yo. retiree now all my pension check money is gone and I will have to go to the bank to get a loan to pay my bills. These people need to be locked up!

Please report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The details of what happened to you are important. Please add them to the database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

If so many people are being scammed with iTunes cards, how come you are not pushing itunes to let these unused cards be returned. My mother was scammed and now i cannot return or even re-sell the iTunes cards - nobody uses them any more and there is a glut. These were purchased at Toys R Us - they should accept returns.

If you gave someone the code on the back of the iTunes cards, you can contact Apple Support and ask them to disable the cards, if the value hasn't been used yet.

If the cards still have value, you can return to the store that sold you the cards. File a report with their fraud department, and ask the store for a refund.  You can also contact Apple Support and explain that you have unused cards and want a refund.

how is it that the scammers can easily use the itune cards to get your money but if you have them you can't do s . . . with them???

I have an app called Mr. Number that has helped me track the exact address of the number that the scammers called me from. I just found out more of the features of the app and it is great! I was scammed out of $1192 this year in July and now I know where they called me from. The numbers are or were 315-544-1301 for a "Mr. Neil Foster", and 315-288-8693 for a "Ms. Lia Lusher" they told me that they are located at 63 Liberty Street New York, NY. Well, I just went through my Mr. Number app and mapped them out to be located at 719 Alexandria Street Carthage, New York 13619. I hope and pray that the proper official US Government Authorities can help me get my money back. I can't get to these thieves as easy as they can. And I need to pay for a lawyer which I do not have money for.

Mine is a government grant organization n apparently I've been selected n crap n now they are txting me and I am pretty sure if it was really the government I'm sure the wouldn't be txting me and asking for an I tunes card or grams

I have been receiving calls from different "companies " some time 3 4 times from a diff. Far State, they usually ask if I need a loan, how much debt I have, and they told me that with their system I will reduce dramatic my debt in credit cards, them they ask me if I have cash or a savings account, I usually don't pay attention and hang up the telephone.

Other offered a "Grant" to buy a house, and ask a fee to be charge to my credit card of $29.95 for the first month and $36.00 for the next months service, If I receive a "Grant " denial them I call them and reimburse first month, and cancell next future payments.

What I really think is that scanners target specific people like Seniors, or somebody that really helps to purchase a house, rent,, etc. or need cash flow, they will offer "services" try to sell anything or invent anything to take money of people that really need help and with not good intentions, try to take out money and rip-off good citizens in need for help and assistant.

I warm my 3 credit bureaus And report a warning for somebody trying to access my record. Also I enroll in the Federal Trade program for warming advise. I think that we need to work more to Improve this area, because somebody "desesperate" can give info. or send transfer payments, or credit card number, waiting for a help that it will arrive. My regards, Thank you for your interest in this seriou situation.

A man contacted me by fb. He asked that I tell no one about him. And to use msg on fb.He goes by name Ogiebarret Barret. He claims to be from Uk. He wants me to send money to UK for personal inheritance. He becomes es extremely mad if I stall or say no to any requests for money to send to Guyana. He is also on romance scams.       only 7nder another name. Ladies beware of this romantic fool who will want to marry you 8n a week.

hello good morning my name is fernando g    i am from  nj    i am talking to anne haster she offer me i chevrolet suburban 2007 from the autoshop magazine i pay whit i tunes gifts the first times says by 6 i tunes $500 aech one by cash

and them she text me back she whants 3 more for ansurance to move the truck but i refuse to by more i tunes,and them on ebay page i have my order id 34505882757

i call ebay number informtion says i missing digit supose the truck by here on 3 days shipping

all this happens star on march 28 2016 and she offer more products because she is military and trying to go to brigade combat team back to south korea replaicing the troops scheduled to come home her phone number is 866949177 whit addres    piedmont, sd 57769  i trying to call back for more information but nothing

This sounds like a scam. When you give someone an iTunes card, they can take the money right away. Some criminals take your money and give you nothing.

You say you found the car in a magazine. You could make a complaint to the magazine and ask for help. If you found the car  online, you can make a complaint to the website customer service. You can make a complaint to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The information you give to FTC goes to other law enforcement agencies.

You can make a complaint to the FTC in English or Spanish.

This is a scam. Do not purchase the ITunes Gift Cards. We just found out the person who was trying to sell a car to my son has already scammed others. I'm sure it's not even the person's name but the name they're using is Selena Nolan. And she's selling her dead husband's Maxima for $1500. Somehow it ended up at Ebay. We were told to buy a ITunes Gift Card and load $1500. Then we had to email the 16 digits and a copy of the gift card to her. Since it sounded so strange we decided to research and look online. That's when we saw the full FAKE story online about Selena Nolan. PLEASE BEWARE. Always be suspicious especially if they want you to purchase using gift cards. It doesn't even make sense!!!

I wish I knew I was also scammed by Selena Nolan same story this has to stop I'm on disability

Beware of calls from loved ones in a distraught state saying they are in jail or something similar. These scammers have an answer for everything, after I was convinced I had been speaking with my grandson who needed $4000 for bail was given instructions to buy ITunes gift cards in $500 increments. I was so emotional by then I did as they said. Only after completing the transaction, and my mind was at ease did I start thinking clearly and within a few minutes realized I had been scammed. Too Late!! Cannot recover from Apple Store or Credit Card company as I had willingly given the information to the scammers. In hindsight there were red flags all over the place. I prided myself on being aware of phone scams and email scams, etc., this episode took over my emotions, again, BEWARE!!
Called the telephone number given to me in the process and it was answered "San Antonio Police Dept.", which I know is easy to do. Understand that scammers use throw away phones so they can't be traced. I called the number this morning and to my surprise it was answered by Capt. John Rockfield the number is 1-888-539-6917.
He was the person I was in contact through the whole episode. Didn't go into all the details, but they were very slick, had all the basis covered. All I know to do now is spread the word as best I can in hopes of helping someone else from falling victim, check your emotions, and THINK!!.

Thank you for sharing your experience. Scammers may pose as relatives or friends, calling or sending messages to urge you to wire money immediately. They’ll say they need cash to help with an emergency — like getting out of jail, paying a hospital bill, or needing to leave a foreign country. Their goal is to trick you into sending money before you realize it’s a scam. For more information, please see (and share), Family Emergency Scams.

And for a variation on this scheme, check out Attention Grandparents: Watch out for phony debt collectors.

They might have got all your info from Facebook. Please make sure your Facebook us locked down by making all your pictures,friend list,and about either private or just family and friends. That is probably how they knew your grandsons name.

It is sad we still have these

I was scammed for 200.00 dollars. on a I tune card. Is there any way I can redeem my money refunded to me.

If you use an iTunes card to send money, it's like sending cash. The person who gets the card can take the value immediately. If you want a refund after you give a card, you have to ask the person you gave the card to.

Hi Bridget,

I just got a call from one of my friend who was tricked in to this scam. He already did send few iTunes card numbers to these people and they are asking him to do for $1500 more.
My friend does not have any idea on what's happening and he called now which is when i told him that this is a scam and do not call them again. They are trying to call him and they will surely respond to him if he calls them now. I asked him to file a complaint. But we would like to know if there is any way we can trick them to get his money back or get their details so the police can catch them? Please point us in a direction here.

They have been calling from different numbers and the latest number they want him to call is 646-627-9389.

If you use an iTunes card to send money, it's like sending cash. The person who gets the card can take the value immediately. If you want a refund, you have to ask the person you gave the card to.

You friend can report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint, and give as many details as he can. The details help law enforcement investigations.

If the scammers said they were calling from the IRS, your friend can also report to the Treasury Inspector General for Taxpayer Administration (TIGTA) at 800-366-4484.

Bridget,

Thanks for responding. I happened to be part of the conference call with these scammers yesterday when my friend invited me to join and they said they are calling from Federal Government Reserve Bank New York and used the New York number 646-627-9389 and before this call it was from 315-217-5098. They said that my friend was picked up along with other 100's of survey participants and were the winners of "The American Recovery and Reinvestment" Act of 2009 (ARRA) grant and is one of the lucky winner for ~$9,000 sweepstakes amount.

My friend remembers taking a survey related to how satisfied he was with current president Mr. Barack Obama or something similar few months back. I asked him to find the survey request email he received but he said he might have deleted and he could not find it. I believe the email that he received may be from these scammers.

I wanted to hear all the crap they talk so we kept on listening to their story. By then they have already redeemed the iTunes store card my friend provided earlier and they said that his money is currently with Virginia state secretariat. When asked why, he said they are the one who will release the grant. He continued saying that since my friend's bank account does not currently have 15% of the grant he is going to receive which is a minimum (not sure why), he said my friend will need to transfer $1500 more worth and after which he will then in total receive all the money at once and will get deposited instantly.

I kept on asking questions to see what else they got. When he insisted on why I have trouble believing him, I have requested him to kindly return my friends money and then we would be able to believe him and he said he cannot which is when I started scolding them and he hung up. These guys had south Asian accent and they are actually multiple people doing the same thing and I was able to hear all their voices in the background.

I just cannot believe how my friend fell for this crap. I asked him to file a complaint at FTC.gov/complaint with all the details.

Please let me know if there is anything else you would like us to do. I sincerely hope they get caught soon. Thank you!

Thank you for letting us know the details of the call. Your comments will help people who read the blog, and help us with education.

I hope your friend will report all this at FTC.gov/complaint, and to the wire transfer company and his bank, if the scammers got his bank account number. He doesn't need to give the FTC his personal information if he doesn't want to, but the details of the scam are important to law enforcement agencies for investigations.

If your friend shared any personal information (bank or credit card numbers, social security number) with the scammers, he can go to IdentityTheft.gov and get tips on how to protect his information. He can also alert his bank and credit card company and ask them how to protect his accounts.

Also, please warn your friend that scammers often sell the names of their victims to other criminals. He may get more calls and emails with scam pitches, or even offers to help him "recover" the money he lost. Those "recovery" calls are really scams in disguise; don't send money to get money.

I had the same incident calling from the same number saying his name is Max William I confronted him cause I relieved after I sent $810 and now he is telling me I have to wait til next year taxes to get my money back. So now he keeps calling my phone even when he's on block r rejected leaving voicemails..

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

So I got a caLloyd yesterday from a person who sounded Indian and called me on a private number. He told I have been pick by the federal government to give me a $9,000 free. I know things like this don't happen like that. So he give me his agent number 1(202)7805594 which was from Washington DC. I called that number and it was a lady, she sounds so convincing and confident in what she's telling me.

She said i all I had to do was to get an iTunes gift that was supposed to be but I had to pay $249 to activate the card and then I could get my money. I told her I dont have a credit card on purpose and as soon as I said that, she said do you have cash and I was like no. So she then told me to call back when I got the money.

Asked her to provide me with website of what she was telling me and she said federalgrant.gov and with the kindividual of person I am I have to research first and find what I need to know. It sounded so good in my ears and I even told them this soundsemester like a scam and too good to be true. She went on saying the federal government pick people base on certain things. But I'm glad I didid not go through with it but instead I stumbled on this website.

Wow same exact person same exact number called me with the same story

after being declined for a bunch of loans, I was desperate. I got a call saying i was approved. They sent me a payment and asked me to send it back to prove the account was active. I was wired 450 and sent back 500. He said the extra would be added to the loan. Then I was asked to send another 130 for taxes because the loan was over 2000. I was wired another 450 and told the rest would be in there by the end of business day. On Monday i checked my account and saw that two checks were deposited as the "wires". The checks were from a couple in Montana and "signed" by me. I immediately went and canceled my back account. Since I got a few harassing emails from this "john smith" saying that someone like me doesn't deserve a loan because i 'took' his money.

for the past two months these people have been calling me and saying that i have some money from the government. that i earned this $9,000 for being such a good citizens and for me to collect the money i needed to get the iTunes car and then providing the numbers on the back of the card and then after that in 5 minutes they will deposit the money back in my account they just want to make sure that I was the right person. but after I give her the numbers she said it was something wrong that I need to buy another iTunes card and then they will give me the whole money back that's what I said this is not right. you guys are doing fraud. because this is illegal and he got really upset.and hang up the phone on me, and then he call 2 minutes after and said veronica think right, you almost there just buy that other iTunes for $495 and you will get all your money together. after that I when directly to the chase bank, and I realize that it was a fraud but it was too late they already got my money.this are that numbers (646)000-1312 (206)823-3077 (646)632-2394

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

Call apple support and have the cards disabled if they are not redeemed to fraudulent accounts. Doing so may help with getting a refund from the store front depending on their policies.

My 91 yr old father was scammed to purchase $2,000 in iTunes cards to help a relative. Before the scammers were given the codes the family found out an stopped the fraud. Now Apple or CVS (where the cards were purchased) refuses to refund my father for the iTunes cards. Other than just report a complaint is there a way for the FTC to help my father in this situation? We can provide the receipt, police report and the detective's phone # if that would help.

Apple Customer Support may be able to help you get a refund from the retail card seller. You could contact them again and explain that you have a receipt and police report, and that the funds are on the cards.

When there are funds available on a card, but a retailer refuses to refund, Apple Customer Support may bring the matter to third parties who can contact the retail card seller about the possibility of a refund. 

And yes, please report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The details you provide - for example, about the scam call, your report to police and seeking a refund - will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

The scam: post car on Craig's list. Then once you show interest they send you a link with more pictures and request your eBay info so they can "initiate the sell using eBay buyer protection". An invoice is sent to you from what seems to be a legitimate eBay Motors source with an invoice. Telling you to buy iTunes gift cards to pay. The Max is $500 on a card so they're kind enough to tell you how many you need to buy. Things to watch for: 1) Craig's list and eBay have no connection. 2) eBay does not accept iTunes gift cards as payment. 3) iTunes gift cards are not used for purchases outside of iTunes. This is all a scam. Please don't fall for this. Be very cautious when buying online. People are out there who will take advantage of your trusting nature and kind heart. There aren't a lot of resources to help you after the fact (once you fall for it).

This is true. Almost happened to my son today. Luckily we were suspicious and did a bit of online research. Thank god for sites like this. I am grateful people are posting their stories because it saved my son. I hate that scams are seeming so real. Using Ebay really made it look legitimate. I wish Ebay would shut scammers out! Watch out for the name "Selena Nolan". If you here this name it's a scam.

This eBay motor scam is also an offer up.

Was taken for a Romance scam on the website "Tinder" by a guy name Matthew Graham Johnson claiming to be a US Combat Medic in Syria for the US Army. iTunes cards, military service leave and air fare. Very smooth talker. I am a Christian and he knew the Bible well. Will pry on loney women . Used a woman to pick money I wired to a bank account in NY. Please don t fall for these scams. I am not only ashamed and embarrassed but out of $1000 s of dollars. Trying to recover from financial debt. Reported to all agencies and have not gotten a response except for a file # for reports filed ,

I too was scammed today from a company that I have been in a dispute with for the last six months about a refund.

I was told to purchase 4 Itunes cards for $500 each and then the amount they owed me plus the amounts I paid would be loaded to the card. I should have followed my first instinct not to do this, but figured they were finally going to do something about the refund since I had made a complaint to the BBB, the FTC and FCC along with the Attorney General of New York.

Fortunately I was able to contact my credit card company to close this account and stop the charges, but I'm afraid they may already have gotten their money. I have filed another report to the FTC about this company. Beware if anyone from LiveTechOnCall calls about computer support, hang up. It's a ripoff!!!

Thank you for reporting your complaint to the FTC. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

Hi Guys, Recently i have received a call like they he told calling from us ferderal verification department.he took lot of money from through itunes.his name david his no is :518-300-3861

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

A family member recently purchased $3000 in iTunes cards via this scam but luckily did not transfer the card numbers to the scammer. This has been report at the FTC complaint website. What is our best course of action towards getting our money back?

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 write again if you have questions about this.

Thank you for reporting this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. The details you provided will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

They just called and got my wife all worked up and in tears! Thought she was going to get arrested if she hung up and was on the phone for 45 min before they tried the ITunes gift card scam. They said it was the IRS and the call was being recorded. Phone number was 206-823-3341. Luckily she didn't give any information.

I read to report to the ftc....how would I go about sending them emails I received? I am out of $500.... scammed on a check loan company. They keep sending me emails with threatening to take me to court in Texas....even sent me a picture document of case and everything. It was two people I sent money (iTunes cards) to but get emails form others saying they are filling charges.

This just happened to my fiance. A gentleman by the name of Eric Willis called him & told him he was approved for a $9480 Federal Grant. He alleged that he worked for the government. In order to transfer the money, he alleged that my fiance had to pay the tax on the amount he was promised. I knew right away it was a scam, but we are getting married in 2 months & my fiance was hoping to buy our honeymoon with the money. Anyways, 2 payments later & the guy is still calling him telling him that if he just pays one final payment the money will be his. I can't tell you how disappointed & embarrassed my fiance is. These people will stop at nothing to get any amount of money.

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

i did !

This just happened to me about 2 hours ago. They called me this morning saying they were from the Investigative Division of the IRS. Eric Martin was his fake name I am guessing. The number they called from was from New York 347-441-6413. They said I owed them $8000 due ASAP or I would go to jail for 5-7 years and they had a warrant for my arrest. Then I got an incoming call from a +1911 number looking like the 911 number. They said they were the police and had a warrant for my arrest. I told them I was on the other line with the IRS trying to resolve the problem. I do owe the IRS money but I am on a payment plan. They said they needed all of it ASAP. I was scared because of the fake police call. I proceeded to talk to them and they said they could resolve it if I paid it in full today. I agreed. I had about $4k in my bank account and would borrow the rest. They said that was agreeable and would call off the police warrant. I was relieved but still scared. I thought it was strange how aggressive they were. Then they gave me instructions how to give them the money. ITunes gift card purchases were the method of payment. I thought it was strange but I was still scared of going to jail so I did it. I took $3500 out of my bank and bought 7 different ITunes gift cards from different locations and gave the guy the code on the back. They pressured me to get $4500 more to pay off the balance but I didn't have it so I said I had to borrow it from my family. They made me drive to my parents house 2 hours away while being on hold with them. Apparently so I couldn't call or ask anyone's advice about what was going on. I did. I started to think about what if this was fraud. When I got home, before I asked for the extra $4500 I was going to make them verify some info, like my social or my correct address. They had my old address and not even the one I filed taxes under. I was super suspicious then. I hung up on them despite my fear of being arrested. I called the local police and asked if I had an outstanding warrant and they said no. I explained my situation and they said it's a common scam. I tried calling
The IRS but their hold times are outrageous and its past closing time for them. I figured out finally I was scammed out of $3500. I am on the phone with Apple to cancel or close out the ITunes purchases. I hope they honor my request. I will report this to e FTC as well. I tried calling the police dept but they are closed as well. Be careful out there people. They have elaborate ways of scaring the hell of you.

So this morning I received a threatening call from someone who claimed to be from the IRS. She told me a warrant was issued for my arrest for $3,742.00 in taxes that I owed and that local IRS agents were going to be at my house in the next 45 minutes if we were not able to resolve the situation. I panicked and told her I am a law abiding citizen and this is a mistake.

She proceeded to tell me that the arrest warrant would be lifted only if I made a payment of $1000 right away and to not hang up the phone or tell anyone about what was going on or they would not lift the warrant. I began to cry and let her know I am pregnant and also have a small child at home and that I do not have that kind of money (being a single parent) so she pretended to put me on hold and returned to let me know her investigator will let me send a $250 payment right away so they will know I'm "loyal" and then we would set up a payment plan.

I agreed and asked her how do I make the payment. She made me stay on the phone with her while I got my child in the car and drove to the atm to get the money. (note that it was STORMING outside the entire time) when I had the money She then told me to go to Walgreens and get a "tax pay voucher" also to let her know when I pulled up to Walgreens..red flags started to fly as she kept talking. I asked her if this was a scam and she assured me it was not. I once again told her of my pregnancy and small child.

When I pulled up to Walgreens she told me to get an ITUNES gift card and do not tell the employee that it for for a tax pay voucher because walgreens would charge an extra $50 to do it that way. I automatically went off because I knew then for certain I was being scammed. I cursed the lady and then told her I was calling the IRS and police and reporting her. She hung up on me and when I tried to call back multiple times it was no answer.. Please please please people be aware. And please keep our elders aware of what is going on also. I hope all of these people are caught and prosecuted for what they are doing. They are vicious.

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