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Asked to pay by gift card? Don’t.

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Has someone asked you to go get a gift card to pay for something? Lots of people have told us they’ve been asked to pay with gift cards – by a caller claiming to be with the IRS, or tech support, or a so-called family member in need. If you’ve gotten a call like this, you know that the caller will then demand the gift card numbers and PIN. And, poof, your money is gone.

Scammers are good at convincing people there really is an emergency, so lots of people have made the trip to the Walmart or Target or CVS to buy gift cards to send these callers. And scammers love gift cards – it’s one of their favorite ways to get your money. These cards are like giving cash – and nearly untraceable, unless you act almost immediately.

So here’s the most important thing for you to know: anyone who demands payment by gift card is always, always, always a scammer. Try this gift card buying exercise out at home – especially when anyone asks you to pay with a gift card:

Q: Should I buy an iTunes, Google Play, Steam, Kroger, Walgreens, BestBuy, Amazon, CVS, Rite Aid or ANY OTHER gift card for someone who demands payment? For any reason?

A: NO.

Gift cards are for gifts, not payments. If you’ve bought a gift card and lost money to someone who might be a scammer, tell the company who issued the card. (The contact info might be on the card, but might require some research) Call or email iTunes or Amazon or whoever it was. Tell them their card was used in a scam. If you act quickly enough, they might be able to get your money back. But – either way – it’s important that they know what happened to you. And then please tell the FTC about your loss. Your report helps us try to shut the scammers down.

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


I need to speak to someone regarding a scam I just experienced for $1500. Is there a phone number I can call please?

You can call the FTC at 1-877-382-4357 and talk to someone about the scam.

Wish I would have seenthis early today they took a lot of money every thing in my checking account darn it!wish I could find them went to police too.

A year ago, I was contacted on Facebook by a man who was trying to gain my romantic interest. He asked me if I could do him a 'favor' and buy a gift card for itunes for him. I said no. He got mad. I think he was in prison. The quality of the phone call was very poor. I don't know how he called me from facebook?! There are people/guys, who are preying upon single women with nice photos on FB, you scroll down and easy to see their history a couple of years back. This has happened to me three times on FB. The first time was the gift card request. No Way!

I have been scammed into buying 3 gift cards worth $150 in order for payments to go through paypal account for items we were selling. I dont know what to do anymore

I had a guy from NY. Ask me to open account with $ 50 dollars in my name at a credit union. He said he would put money in it as soon as it was set up. I could use it for my bills then use the rest for gift cards to send him. I’m on disability so I said I could only open account with$50. He said that was fine. I then said that I am supported by the government and am suppose to report any changes in finances. I asked if this would throw up red flags. I can’t lose my benefits. My Medicaid is the most important thing I need. I take 20 different pills a day. Everything is paid for thru Medicaid he said oh no this won’t throw up any red flags. Now today I have a serviceman supposedly in afganistan that wants me to do something very similar. I knew this had to be a scam. I have names and numbers. For both men. All this happened on Facebook. Can give what info I have to try to catch these people. So I am correct. This is a scam right? What do I do now?

That sounds like a scam. You can report it to the FTC online at, or call 1-877-382-4357.

 Some scammers use people to help them transfer stolen money. They don't reveal that the money is stolen - they tell a cover story to hide the real reason for the transaction. They meet people online, create a relationship, and ask their new friend to use her existing bank account, or open a new account. Then, the scammer asks the victim to receive and transfer money.

If you do this for a scammer, your name might be on the bank account. It will be on the money transfer forms. If you get involved with one of these schemes, you could lose money and personal information, and you could get into legal trouble.

I was scammed via the gift card scam and my loss is $19,854 with all of it on my credit cards. I've reported the scam to the police and filed an online complaint with the FTC. I tried to get a loan at my bank to pay the debt off in one monthly payment (the loss was spread out over 3 credit cards), but wasn't eligible. Is there any hope that I can get the APR on the cards reduced? Or can you offer any ideas on how to get this debt down? I do have a case number from the police report.

I just experienced a scam where they deposited money into my account electronically. My bank put a two day hold on it and once it was cleared I was to go pay the loan back with Google play cards. This was to help my credit I paying along back immediately. So I did reluctantly. Then I figured out it was a scam and did some research. Now I am worried. I have not given him Any personal money but can he take money out of my account?

Yes, if you tell someone your bank account number so they can put money in, they can also take money out.

They can deposit a bogus check. It will take two to three weeks for your bank to determine that it is bogus. At that point - then fake funds that were deposited will be withdrawn by your bank due to fraud.

I came across one claiming to be an actress manager, I asked for hard verification. None was provided, It first started with a money order request. When there was no proof or verification, I called the money order services to put a red flag on the contact info. After they were flagged that is when they started requesting the giftcard.

I came across one claiming to be an actress manager, I asked for hard verification. None was provided, It first started with a money order request. When there was no proof or verification, I called the money order services to put a red flag on the contact info. After they were flagged that is when they started requesting the giftcard.

I thank goodness I am reading this. These scammers never give up. I already asked them to give the grant to someone else but they just keep calling me. I just finished speaking with one who asked me to go buy a google play card and something pushed me to google this and here I am. Thanks so much for sharing this and saving a poor student here.

I’m having trouble with a gmail account. Don’t remember anything except the email address and phone # linked. I provided the # linked to the account to what I believed to be google tech support because i was directed there after using the google tech support link provided on the google website.
The individual stated I would have to purchase a google play card and the provide the number off the back to fix my issue (smh) afterwhich, my $500!!!! LMAO would be refunded.
Holy Crap. This was straight from google links. Off google tech support?!! Is this for real!!

called a phone number to Instagram that was listed and was told by the 'employee of instagram' that I should go purchase 2 google play cards and call him back with the binary code. Gave me a phone number, extention and case number. Still no response from Instagram when I reported this nor a response to my original concern of them hijacking my daughters account.

Please help me. I am currently texting a potential scammer. We met from an online dating app, and right now we are texting through hangouts, so I have her email address at least. She told me she need my help by buying her gift card ( Amazon, ITunes, or Steam Wallet). She said she’s in Spain right now and doing bitcoin business, and she ran out of bitcoin that she could sell to her business associates, so asked me to buy gift card and explained to me that it’s a fast way for her to redeem and mine bitcoin. She wants to send me check and she said she has an accountant to help her with that. I first gave her my Chase online access, and my chase account closed immediately. Then I opened a Well Fargo account, and she was able to send me 900 check and I used all to buy her gift cards, but after this when she tried to send the second check to my Wells Fargo, it kept failing. ( By the way, the first check she sent was from Suntrust she said, I have a picture of that check). I just opened a BBVA compass bank account for her, so that she can send me the second check. But after I found this page, I changed my access to my BBVA online access immediately. I have her name as she claimed. Please help me, I’m so stressed out right now with the fact that she might be a scammer. Also, she told at first that don’t buy those gift card online.

I'm going through the same thing right now I don't know what it is what's going on she says you need to steam card for gas so she can get to me I don't know what that means money the issue is just the fact that she said she can trade the steam cards in for gas I told her to let me watch need the money she said she can't say something doesn't seem right

Omg this just happened to me the exact way. The guy says he's in England and is a private doctor and he wanted for me to get Google cards, Apple and steam and now I'm out of $450 which is not too bad but still. I blocked my credit card right away thank goodness!!!! ......I hope everything worked out for you

I am going through this same thing. I always mention about researching all of it so they know I'm not easy to manipulate. I've made it clear to them that if they want to send me money it has to be a money order or cashiers check.

Anybody have input on this? Met someone on something like a dating app, she's supposed to be sending me money, she says she's paying through her Bitcoin wallet & I'll have to get a Google play gift card of $25 to validate the payment. I'm confused because she's supposed to be paying me through Cashapp. She says I'll only need the card once. Will doing that give her access to my bank account? I need help.

I hah apply for a loan and the loan company asked me to buy a google play gift card for £25pound to get loan as insurance
Later I check my bank account and their was no money I call them and asked them and told me my credit score is law saw the company asked me to buy Google play for £ 95 and I did a d send to them still no fund in my account when I realised the total money I bought the google play card and send to the was£ 411 and still was no found im bank account
I call the company to cancel my loan later the manager call me and asked me to pay £ 250 they Will put my money back together with the loan
Later their manager told because you don't that £250 I spoke to my colleagues and they have agreed to put the funds on your banks account
1 check ed my account and I saw the fund of £230 and asked me to buy the google play card using that fund and send the screen the I did for the first time and I send to them
Later I try to pay my bills by online banking I saw my account been blocked the note said contact your bank frauds department
I spoke to my bank and told me that the money I used to buy a google play card its frauds its some money
They asked me if I have any receipt to send to them and the full details of the loan company I didn't no if the company its frauds until the my bank told me
Am asking if am in trouble because idn't know anything about it

I was given money in my account to buy the gift cards and send the pins I'm very confused and am not sure how to proceed

Did you buy any gift cards? I really hope you didn’t.

I’m 19, my area cordinator at my college sent out this opportunity as great part time job and said he did it as well. Then when I got everything I never questioned it being legit because it came from my college. I deposited the check and then bought the gift cards yesterday and followed all the instructions. Within 10 minutes I immediately felt as if something was wrong and googled it. I then figured out that the check for $1300 was going to bounce in a few days and I’ll be stuck with it. In order to get some value of my money I redeemed the gift cards in time, but now I’m stuck with what is going to happen. I read online that you could go to jail for being apart of it and it’s really freaking me out on top of the fact I do not have $1000 to pay back the bank for the gift cards. If someone could fill me in, it would be much appreciated. I bank with Wells Fargo.

So earlier in December, I was seeking employment on as a Nanny. There was this one gentleman that responded stating he needed someone to watch his little girl Kara when they arrive here in Fl. Everything sounded good till he states that he is sending payment upfront for my services and extra money to pay for his daughters toys that he wanted delivered to me. Red Flag!!! Why wouldn't you pay for it and have it delivered here himself. Moving on...once I received his check for the upfront payment I had my bank call and verify if the check was legit. I mean how many people will pay upfront for Nanny services. Red Flag #2! I continued to receive text from him to confirm the deposit of said check. I told him there was going to be a 3-5 day hold on the funds so he proceeded to tell me to go to CVS or Walgreens and purchase gift cards for the remaining amount of money and send it to the so called toy seller. Needless to say, the check was fraudulent and the authorities were contacted and no harm was done.

Hi I just received a check in the Mail for 3350.00 dollers from secret shoppers +they asked me to deposit the money in my bank account and to keep 350.00 formy pay I was to go to walmart and buy 3000.00 in gift cards( 500 and 200) is what I was to buy. But I looked at the check and it does look real but what got me to question the check was ton what should have been the check stub it was left blank??Now I'm not the smartest person around but that just did not sit well with me so I found your web site after googled it and read the scams they did .U have no idea how glad I am It took the time to check it out I would have been out so much money I don't have! Thank u for the Info. Ok now they gave me a email and text number to send them the info they need to get there scam what should I do with it cuz I just got another text from them tell me to deposit the check and the money will clear in a day or two?who can I give this to maybe they can get someone with the number I have?

I've been hearing about most all these scams that have been posted in the comment section and the gift card scam has actually happened to me via Twitter. (But only once!) Since then I have played with these scammers that are posing as hot looking young girls! Now I'm talking about 50 plus of this kind of stuff! They all ask for gift cards specifically Amazon and steam. Finally found out that they put them on bitcoin and sell them that way! So this goes deeper than I originally thought... so beware of Twitter accounts with girls seeking a "relationship"! I have found on 3 separate occasions that the same girls picture has been in 3 separate profiles and different names! And many with 2! Beware!!!

Was told I was approved for a 2500 dollar loan . Told to go to Wal-Mart,Walgreens where they sold identification cards. The money has been deposited in to my account but I have not went to buy an identification card yet. Said this was to prove they were dealing with the right person. What is a identification card that is at these places. They said no cost to me

I have had 2 girls that i met on a dating site. And was stupid with one and gave her my cell number. So I get txt from her and the other has my google hangout. Which i can block them. 1 has asked for a ITunes gift card. The other has asked for a Steam Card.

I have been asked by this bloke I've met on Instagram to buy him a steam card for £50 to download software for his job
What should I do

So I have been talking on Kik with this "person" that offered to help me out with my bills. All I had to do was buy him 100 STEAM CARDS and then scratch off something on the back, and tell him the revealed info. My GUT tells me its a scam, but here's my ultimate question... First, could there be legal repercussions if I did it, and 2, wouldn't I lose the money I spent if I did go through with it?

Has anyone else had something similar happen to them?

They are also hitting dating apps. I have had 3 profiles state they were military and executives trying to get Steam gift cards, they use manipulative tactics. They use model like photos and one even had images of the military member. So they seem to be cat fishing, and then taking photos of the people they catfished and using them to create new accounts.

Yes they hit me on Facebook as a friend..posted flowers, said was in Kabul, afganistan. Had a convincing profile of someone that works in the medical field. Said he was retiring in December. Anyway, wanted to chat on hangouts as we did he posted pictures and even called. But something always feels odd. Just the other day he needed help to get an Amazon gift card, now he wants a steam card . I have reached out before to places to search info but usually no return call from anyone. Thing that's weird is his face is very familiar.. just can't place it. So when he contacts me I feel so messed up. Wish there was honest people.

Previous comment didnt post.
Quick: They are using dating apps to, posing as military members, and using their catfish skills to take your images and post them to new profiles to harrass more people.

I got a scam of $4000 yesterday my iPhone was lost but in actual it was under my right seat at very corner. I call apple support right away I notice I lost then they said they are from apple and said me to buy gift cards and also said that donot tell the cashier that you want to trace your phone if you tell them than they will put a chip in card and then we will not be able to refund you I said ok fair enough I will not tell them. I knew scammers calls but this time I called apple support and I never heard of gift card scam so I was totally fooled by them I buy 100,400,1000,1000,1000,500 total 4000 dollars and now I donot even have money to pay for my MasterCard

I lost 200 dollars does someone knows how can i do to have me money back?

I just got a Amazon gift card for $60 from my grandfather and I was doing online looking and stuff and all of a sudden is gone and it says that I'm scamming and a bunch of stuff that's not true and I'm just really really upset about it if someone can get back to me as soon as possible that it would be great thank you

I got a call telling that someone is trying to hack your computer(mac). Directly he asked me to go to www. support. and by entering that code he got control of the system and he cleared all the browser data. And by typing netstat in terminal there are some local address and foreign addresses. There are some foreign addresses established he said that that it was some hackers who are trying to access your computer. He told me that he will be installing the antivirus hacking software. He said to me that as you are having apple warranty I need to buy 2 google play cards worth 100$ and he said the money will be refunded back. So, i told him that i don't have enough money right now, he was like if you don't do it know your system will be hacked do as soon as possible. I was like ok, Call me tomorrow at 7 pm.
I don't know whether it is a scam or not. I'm wondering that how he got the code for
I'm worried now i don't know what to do. As he controlled my computer for 10 minutes I don't know what he can do. will he do anything?

It sounds like a scam. He could be trying to scare into giving him gift cards. Maybe he wants you to show him your account passwords. He could use the passwords to get into your accounts and take your money.

I just got contacted by someone on Instagram (@social_giveaway) telling me that I won an iPhone XS Max today and when I responded, they said I had to purchase a steam wallet gift card and I immediately knew they were scammers.

So I have a scenario where they actually sent me money to my account to purchase the gift in order to recieve a loan. What do you make of this?

Don’t use google to find the customer service number to a business like I did. I called the first number that was listed, thinking I was actually contacting Paypal, and I got scammed with those google play cards. I was in line at the money center at Walmart about to purchase more cards, and a lady I was chit chatting with started telling me about how she was scammed out of $600. I was “on hold” with the hacker who was waiting for me to purchase them so I put him on mute! I was next in line and the cashier had the gest of what was going on and told me that people are getting scammed with these cards. I didn’t purchase them and hung up on the guy and he called me back like 3 times. Unfortunately, they had already scammed me out of $550 before I fully caught on to the fraud. I’m still disputing this with my bank now.

Was this resolved with your bank?

someone sent me $1000 to buy just one $100 card the money is already in my account what should I do and how will buying him the card effect me

I recently got to know a "Celebrity" from LA, through Facebook, and he happens to be a "Benjamin Thomas Barnes" whom I do not know much about. Anyway, he kept asking me to get him an iTunes gift card. I ignored and he blocked me after a month of being "friends". He did send me false-silk red roses though through Amazon. Strange.


PayPal & Google Play state both companies have known fake PayPal customer service numbers are posted on Google search for months. They connect you to scammers.

This one hacked into our PayPal acct, transferred funds into our back acct online as we watched & then proceeded to tell us how many hackers were accessing our account. That they needed codes on the back of the google play store cards to choose the computer hacking loop electronically & that all funds would be refunded to us immediately. ALL LIES!! RENT MONEY GONE.

I met a lady on a dating all plenty of fish. We had been talkimg a while nothing about money. She was visiting Arizona from North Carolina. Now she is back in North Carolina. She said her phine is messed up and cant call and her son's birthday is coming up tomorrow and she was hoping I can send 50 dollars in gift cards that she can exchange for cash bit anything helps.

I needed to fix my name change in pay pal . I called the corporate office but got disconnected then recieved another call from another number with the SAME GUY I WAS TALKING TO . HE KNEW EVERYTHING WE QERE TALKING ABOUT PLUS PAYPAL ACCOUNT INFO . he said that in order to expedite the name change I will need to go to a store that sells Google play cards and purchase that for 200 dollars . He said the code on the back of that card will expedite the process and I will be refunded immediately. He was Indian but same call from the corporate office
I'm so confused.

Very sadly and unfortunately I was a victim of scammer yesterday afternoon. The caller used a government phone and claimed he was police officer. He had my correct personal info and claimed that my identity was stolen and I was associated with the crimes. I was freaked out and fallen into the trap. The caller convinced me that I need to buy apple store gift cards to prove I was innocent. So I did everything the called told me to and was scammed for 6K. Later at night my husband called Apple for me and found out the gift cards that I purchased were used immediately at another Apple Store at another state. We filed a complaint via FTC and we also filed a police report. I also called the credit card company which I used my credit card to purchase the Apple gift cards. What else do I need to do? Now I only suffer from financial loss, but emotionally depressed. I can’t even sleep now because what happened to me.


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