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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

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

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


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 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 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 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 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.

Thank you for sharing this story so other people can be aware. Please report this to the FTC at The details 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.

She must have called me right after you! I got the same thing and they told me to stop crying as any backlash in could be deamed disorderly and they would send someone to my house in 45 minutes. I'm so sorry this happened to you.

This happened to me today. I really didn't think I would fall for something like this! They were very convincing and pushy. When it came to the point of driving to a target to get iTunes cards I told the that is was in the parking lot looking for scams to double check there legitimacy. I finally hung up. But the warrant threats, loss of social security privledges and that the "government thinks I'm avoiding back taxes" was in hindsight outrageous.

I just got called and was offered $9,000 as a loyalty grant for paying my taxes and bills for so long. I was told it was a reimbursement for doing so. I was given conf code and a phone# to call and give that code (202)792-9782 When I called Angel at EXT 107 said I needed to purchase an ITunes card for $260 then proved the 16 digit code on the back of that card. Once that code was provided then the $9000 would be released via moneygram within 45 minutes. Soon as I got off the phone I googled this and immediately found this site. It's so sad that this is going on and that lots of people have been duped. If it sounds too good to be true... It probably is.

I am tight with the buck, I think that I have at least average common sense, that said, I am really stupid. Got scanned for $2,000. ITUNE cards 6/15 and nearly lost an additional $3,000... The "STORY"; Grandson calls, in jail and needs bail, there goes $2,000. Then need 3K for attorney fees. Clerk asks me if I am being scammed when buy the 3K ITUNE cards, and I say no, I know what I'm doing... Stopped and thought about it after I bought the 3k cards. Grandson is not in jail, called APPLE trying to get the 2k in cards voided, forget that, called credit card company to deal with APPLE, no good, reported incident to local police.. Now I have SIX $500.00 ITUNE cards, store will not take them back.. Need to try APPLE again to see if they will void them and make some reimbursement ...... HAVE A GOOD DAY

I"m sorry this happened to you. You can contact the fraud department of the store that sold the cards to you. Tell the fraud department you want to file a report, and want a refund.

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

Please report this to the FTC at 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.

Hi im terrie just got scammed out of 3000 !!i was trying to get a personal loan and the girl wgo called had me use itune cards for wiring transfers for loan app for stae and federal taxes and on and on

i ask for my money back they told me i had to purchase another itune card to pay for my money to be sent back to the bank that didnt happen they called me back after promising me that my funds would go back to the bank they asked for abother itune card for 600 hundred for all the paperwork to be put back together and signed off

so all together i apent 3000 on itune cards !!! They will not give me back my money they say there address is consumer loan dept 800 w 17 th st washington d.c 20006 there number is 1 209 644 2221 ask for rodger or nicole or mark or rick or nelson one of them will scam you !!! Im a honest person on s.s.d get very little income its my fault for going with it but i really did need the 3000 to pay my taxes now i might lose my house which is paid off !!!

Please file a report with the FTC at The information you put in your complaint will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations. You can enter the address, phone number and names that the scammers used.

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

If you're having trouble paying property taxes right now, you could contact your local government and ask if they can help you with a payment plan. If you need to pay state or federal income taxes you can contact those tax offices and ask about a payment plan.


Apple knows that their iTunes gift cards are being used fraudently in this way -- in effect, they are laundering money -- but they do nothing to stop it. What is their responsibility/liability in this?



We appreciate your concerns, but cannot comment on any entity’s possible responsibility or liability in connection with such a scam.

Totally agree with Mark S. The fact that they sell $500 iTunes cards says they are complicit. There is nothing to buy with these cards anymore - a song costs $1 and most people use streaming services. It is totally outrageous

I received a call stating I owed the IRS $6000 and I needed to pay immediately or else an arrest warrant would be issued. They instructed me to leave my job and go to my car for "privacy reasons", then instructed me to immediately drive to the nearest pharmacy and purchase an I-Tunes gift card. This seemed very strange, so I asked for the IRS regulation number authorizing the IRS to collect via I-Tunes. The foreign scam artist got very aggressive and kept threatening me with arrest. I called him some few choice curse words and hung up the phone. They immediately called me back and I hung up again.

they call me today and they want me to pay them 1000 for goverment for my SSN and the government only see but can not do anything.

If a lots of people get trap like me who can help them or if they kill themself because of trust a nation in there have the laws and rules that can help people live a good life and good work to have money to servey there family....But nothing like ex:if someone try your name do do bad thing you hear it but you did not do anything to stop that event you have the power in your hands so you will stop or let them do whatever they want to do to trick people around you by your name (lucky my nam is not government)

I cry to much lastnight so now I do not have tears so I only say I will try to get some job and rebuild money for all my bills. Again I FEEL so upsad why nobody help me. DO YOU FEEL reproachful when you have powers in your hands but you just sit there and can not do anything ( I guest)i have no money to pay for my bill now GOD help

My son just got ripped off by the IRS and iTunes gift card scam for $2300. Called Apple iTunes and they said they could not share information about who is using the cards but have the information on file.

When I continued to press, the supervisor stated that they can only release the information to law enforcement. As we all know you need an iTunes account to use iTunes gift cards, why can't the FTC or IRS ask for the information from Apple and follow up with who is accessing the funds?

Since most of the calls are threatening, doesn't it fall under extortion? The electronic transactions can be traced. Even if the cards were used to purchase specific products from iTunes store, they can all be traced and accounts disabled.

Please ask your son to report this to the FTC at The information he gives will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

I agree apple should be forces to turn over that info! They did the same thing when they refused to help the FBI with a known terrorist crime on our country's soil. We as Americans should boycott Apple. Instead the issues get pushed under the carpet and our $ keeps lining their pockets

Did your son get refund somehow?

The same thing happened to me yesterday they took out 200$ out of my iTunes gift card,Is there any possibility of me getting it back please help me out I'm stressed out.

If you tell someone the code on an iTunes card, he can take the value from the card immediately. If you think maybe the scammer didn't use the value yet, contact Apple Support and ask them to disable the cards so the scammer can't use it.

If the scammer already used the value, the money is gone. It's important to report this to the FTC at The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

- I just got scammed by some one in Sanfrancisco the scamers told me that iam tax defaulter and pay 2000 dollars now otherwise they will arest me and put me in a jail then i purchased 2000 dollars worth itune gift card but i did not give them the code of cards and even not scrached the cards i go back to cvs for refund my cards but they said they did not refund that cards please any one to help me to how can refund these un used cards and get my money back

You can contact Apple Support. Tell them that you have the cards, and the codes were not used. Ask them for help with a refund. Also, go back to the store and talk to the customer service department. You might have to look online for a customer service department email or phone number for the business. Tell them you have the cards and the codes and you want a refund.

It is also very important to report this to the FTC. Go to and explain what happened. Include all the details you have. The information will go into a database, and law enforcement agencies look at that information.

If the store or Apple will not help you, please send another comment. Your comments help other people know what scammers are doing.

I called apple support they told me that it is refundable but you didn't buy these card from us thats y we can not regund it you purchased itune hift card from cvs and your money is in cvs regester so they will returend it but cvs not ready to refund they told me contact with apple please any one help me this regard my cards are un used and un scrached so what can i do for got my money back

You might have to contact the customer service department for the company if the local store will not help you. You can ask Apple Support if they can give you proof that the cards have value if that is what the store wants.

I hope you did report this to law enforcement at Your story will help law enforcement know more about this scam, and help with investigations.

This FTC article tells more about making a consumer complaint.

You might use social media to tell your story. Many companies have people who look at the public posts and complaints about their service that appear on social media pages. Your post will be most effective if you use a reasonable tone and explain the problem clearly. To avoid negative perceptions, the company may respond quickly to your problem.

You could contact your local media’s call for action line.

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 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

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.


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