Scammers demand gift cards

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Gift cards are a great way to give a gift. But did you know they are also a scammer’s favorite way to steal money? According to the FTC’s new Data Spotlight, more scammers are demanding payment with a gift card than ever before – a whopping 270 percent increase since 2015.Gift cards and reload cards are the #1 payment method for imposter scams. More scammers are demanding payment with a gift card. The percentage of consumers who told the FTC they paid a scammer with a gift card has increased 270% since 2015. Reports to the FTC say scammers are telling people to buy gift cards at Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS and other retail shops. 42% of people who paid a scammer with a gift card used iTunes or Google Play. Federal Trade Commission.

Gift cards are for gifts, not for payments. If someone calls with urgent news or a convincing story and then pressures you to pay them by buying a gift card, like an iTunes or Google Play card, and then giving them the codes on the back of the card – stop. It’s a scam.

Gift cards are the number one payment method that imposters demand. They might pose as IRS officials and say you’re in trouble for not paying taxes; or a family member with an emergency; or a public utility company threatening to shut off your water; or even a servicemember selling something before deployment. Or they might call with great news – you’ve won a contest or a prize! But to get it, you need to pay fees with a gift card. Scammers will say anything to get your money. And they know how to play into your fears, hopes, or sympathies. They like gift cards because, once they’ve got the code on the back, the money is gone and almost impossible to trace. But knowing how these scams work can help you avoid them, and you can help even more by passing on the information to people you know.

If you paid a scammer with a gift card, report it as soon as possible. Call the card company and tell them the gift card was used in a scam. Here is contact information for some of the gift card companies that scammers use most often. Then, tell the FTC about it – or any other scam – at Your reports may help law enforcement agencies launch investigations that could stop imposters and other fraudsters in their tracks.

Report Scams


  • Call 1 (888) 280-4331
  • Learn about about Amazon gift card scams here.

Google Play

  • Call 1 (855) 466-4438
  • Report gift card scams online here.
  • Learn about Google Play gift card scams here.


  • Call 1 (800) 275-2273 then press “6” for other, then say “operator” to be connected to a live representative.
  • Learn about iTunes gift card scams and how to report them here.


  • If you have a Steam account, you can report gift card scams online here.
  • Learn about Steam gift card scams here.


  • Call 1 (866) 795-7969
  • Report a MoneyPak card scam online here.
Tagged with: gift cards, imposter, scam
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


there was a girl taking orders in a drive thru restaurant with an ipad and a credit card swiper, she didn't work there - it almost worked for her... but I paid cash at the window - scammers never stop

I've heard from scammers pretending to be from the IRS several times. Each time it was pay up or else. Of course, if I ask them for simple things like my name or address, they're unable to provide it. I even asked one who said he was calling from Washington, DC why he had a Utah area code. His reply was a click and then silence.

If you ever owed money to the IRS you know that they never take gift cards as payment.

I work at a Walgreens, and I've stopped quite a few of these scams over the last few years. It's so common that I start asking questions whenever someone wants to buy a high value Google or iTunes card. I've even seen cases where the scammer is on the phone with the victim and is walking them through the process. Some people don't want to hear the truth. I had one guy come back 3 times asking "are you sure it's a scam? Are you sure I didn't win a government grant?" And I had one guy who absolutely refused to believe it was a scam, and kept buying cards until we cut him off, and then he started sending his co-workers in to buy cards.

Thank you for watching out for the scams and warning people when you see the danger signs.

Cymond, I purchased my ITunes cards at Walmart, they were not in the least concerned. I got 6 x 50. It was easy to get them, I felt very uneasy about it and I still followed through with it. When the benefit was not delivered in the time stated. I dared to call back I was now told I need to pay an additional sum to complete the transaction

Don't send more money or gift cards to those callers. You can report the scam to the FTC at The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC uses for investigations.

Thank you for caring and doing more than your job. Sad that people buy into these scams.

This just happened to me on Friday. I seriously wish that the ppl here cared like you do. Even tho I knew it was a scam I was panicked, something that has never happened to me before. I finally snapped out of it. I still have the unused gift card but no money in the bank now.

Today I was involve in google play scam. They scam me out of $400 The total I had in checking account. The scammer told me I had warrants an I needed to take all the money out of my account so he would report the judge to lift warrent an the social security would give me a new #. I gave the scammer the code from the google play card an they stole the money.

Has anyone heard of a woman supposedly with DHHS requesting $450 via ITunes gift cards or an Amazon gift card? If the person buys the card, gives this woman the number on the back, she then authorizes a $10,000 payment via UPS. She contacts people via Facebook messenger but you can't go to her profile, so it's all through messenger her trying to get this money, and believe me she is a pitbull trying to get it too. I used my negotiation skills and told her by XX-XX-XXXX I would pay $50, which I will not do and reported her instead, then found these comments. I was searching for anything about this scam.
No, I did fall for it and won't send my hard earned money to anyone I do not know personally. She is going by AnnMarie Sylla, or he whatever the case may be. Yes that's how the name shows up through the messenger app. Whoever this is has also contacted a friend of mine, who unfortunately sent the $450 gift card. I'm too skeptical of people I don't know because of this reason!

If anyone calls me demanding some kind of payment with a gift card all they will get is me laughing and hanging up. Then the number gets blocked.

Easy way to reduce telephone scammers is to use an answering machine. We get a lot of callers who just hang up when the machine kicks in. Telephone with answering machine costs around $50. A lot cheaper than being scammed out of your life savings.

I work at Target and after less than a year I have personally turned away 3 older people trying to buy gift cards for large amounts. We who work in retail can put a stop to this by doing our due diligence. Ask questions when someone wants to buy large amounts of gift cards. One lady kept getting calls from her "grandson" while she was trying to convince me he needed the money. I told her it wasn't money, these giftcards can only be used at Target. I told her to please right away call the parent of this grandchild who was her son or daughter. The "grandson" was trying to keep her on the phone so she couldn't call anyone. In the end she left promising to make that call. I did what I could.

Thank you for talking with people and helping them avoid the scams.

I bought a gift card at Publix, didn't mail it out until several days later. The person I gifted tried to use the card and the merchant said it was cancelled. I called VISA and was told the card was used the day after I bought it. At that time I still had the card. Be aware of buying gift cards at Publix in Delray Beach, Florida

Phyllis.. Your now reporting things on the web? Are u bored?

I work in a retail store and see this every day. The customers never believe me and my co workers when we try to explain to them that they are being scammed. We give them information and telephone numbers and were are the ones that are wrong. We don't know what we are talking about.

Thank you to you and your coworkers for talking with people and trying to protect them. It's really helpful for you to do that, and you're going to make a difference for someone.

How about alerts for using Western Union to pay the FTC for winnings at Publisher's Clearing House?

I've been scammed just a few days ago. I only had $340 in my bank and was asked to put on a Google play. Told it would be kept for safe keeping. Then walked thru overdrafting my account for $200 then asked to put in the only cash I needed for another card. So grand total was $590 plus $35 overdraft fees. Kept me on the phone the whole time I bought them. Yes fool but convenced me if I didn't help I'd be spending up to 9 years in prison. Shame on them all. Shame on me for being so follish.

You can report this to the FTC at The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC uses for investigations.

You can also report to Google Play. Call 1 (855) 466-4438. The chart in this blog has a website for Google Play, in case you want to report online.

Sadly my grandmother who is cognitively delayed was scammed this year by someone. She is very angry that we stopped her from buying cards and that a girl at the gas station stopped her as well. I am thankful they were aware of the situation and people told us, but I am sad she was taken advantage of. She is on a fixed income from disability since she has never been able to maintain a job. This isn't the first scam this year either. Someone sold her a knee brace over the phone saying Medicaid would pay for it.

i worked on bank call center ..disputes and it is very sad to see how easy older people get scam out of their life savings and UNFORTUNATELY this charges are not disputable, that said thank you all conscientious retail workers doing the right thing

scammed b y internet service to clean computer . scammed by using walmart gift card transaction, to refund me my money,
tweakbit scam

I have been scammed of 2100.00 . I'm trying to report it but the report won't let me because I don't know the company's name that scammed me. it wasn't a company , it was someone pretending to work for the government issuing government grants for $150,000.

When you report to the FTC at, you can skip a line in the report. You don't have to fill in every part of the complaint form. Give as much information as you have. The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. Thank you.

I was told I was chosen to perform a mystery shopper. I have done it before so I didn’t think nothing of it. They sent me a check in the mail for $2420. I was told to get take $420 out for my payment and take the remaining $2000 to Walmart to purchase gift cards. When my bank held the check and I told them it was on hold that was the last time I heard from them. Now I’m in the hole for the $2420. They assured me it would go through. You just can’t believe in good helpful people. Instead they target the vunerable and people who are desperate for money. This is a learning lesson for me

I just had the same scam happen to me but they sent a check for $3350.56 and told me that I keep $350..But instead of depositing the check I looked up the bank online and called to verify that the check was good or not... Good thing I did because it was a fraudulent check. So my suggestion is to always verify the check first and only use the phone number from the bank's real website. Do not use it off the check... Oh and if the bank address is an P. O. Box address then it's most likely a fake check.

I got a friend named Jeffery Hayford, Pennsylvania. He contacted me a few times, and he asked me to send him an I tune Gift card. I told him I didnt want to send him any gift card, and he got very mad. I blocked him on Facebook.

Gift cards should be taken off the market. Gift cards always work in favor of the issuer: people routinely lose or forget them and that money stays with the company - literally a Billion dollars a year. Consumers are losing money. And now we are being scammed. Please take these off the market.

I report scammers to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram daily. And the next few days I get scammers ten fold asking the same questions over and over!
I have called the local sheriff's office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the FBI and INTERPOL, They don't care either! I suspect some of these scammers work in these agencies!

I get a lot of female Facebook friends who will call me all kinds if "Dears" and "Honey" then after a few days ask for an Amazon or iTunes gift card. I tell them, "I may have been at night but it wasn't last night." Then I block them.

The authority that investigates the IRS version of these scams is TIGTA (this inspector general for tax administration). They have made many busts recently and they are frequently a combo of international set-ups with "associates" in the U.S. to make the scam convincing. They can display local phone numbers and they use intimidation as a tactic - which can be effective as it's unexpected. Be prepared - even if they bust the operation you will very like never see the money you lost.

November 10, 2018 I was contacted by someone reportedly from the promotion dept. of Direct TV . They said if I wanted my monthly bill reduced by a considerable amount per month for 2 years to send them by Amazon gift card of $360 for the first 3 months and the monthly change would show up on my Dec. statement. When the statement came and no reduction showed I immediately called the phony telephone # they provided and they said they would look into it. Then the Jan statement came and I called the customer service # at Direct TV and they were unaware of any promotion. After many calls to Direct TV and At&T and Amazon and my CC company I find I have been scammed and there is no recourse since I called too late to get any results...

I received a phone call yesterday saying the order I placed on line from Microsoft was overcharged. After 3 hours on the phone he made me leave the room and had gotten into my credit union account and showed a transfer from Chase of $3000. The overcharge was $350 but they could not transfer that small amount si then how to pay back the difference. Go to 3 different stores and buy a$500 goggle card and stay on the phone with him I knew now it was a scam. Hung up called my credit union they told me he had transferred that money from my savings account it was not a transfer from Chase. They froze all my accounts. Have to take my computer to be checked out cleaned up check for viruses and csnt use my debit cards or any banking til this is done. Devastated I am retired from the banking business and feel so stupid. Have no idea how much of my banking info he got. Living in Ga taking care of my 92 year old parents and there is not my credit union here. Probably have to change all my bank accounts and my bank credit cards. I had placed an on line order from Microsoft a week ago so that is the only reason he got as far as he did. An Asian accent and room full of other people I could hear calling other people. BEWARE! My 92 year old dad said get rid of the computer glad I haven't had one he said.

I have a new "scammer" friend on Hangouts. He can't do video or phone call, because he supposedly "works on an oil rig" and there are "pirates and rebels" that can attack the ship. I told him every scammer says the same BS he was saying. Just today he asked about sending him gift card. Yeah right...

Yes the oil rig guy... I had him... can’t send him wire transfers because all his friends have been reported so they can’t get wire transfers...

Was he asking by chance for Amazon cards for a "connection fee"

I have been in contact with him. Pretty sure I have been scammed.
Yet, why do I still believe him and Wonder if is not a scam

I'm in contact with the oil rig guy. He's very good, I question whether hes scamming too, he sent pics, I did a reverse photo image search, he's taking pics off a guy from Isreals Facebook page. But he has us married and living in Ireland. Just as long as I send Google Play cards, WTH!!!

I jusg met a guy that says he works on a oil rig also! Right
claims hes inNorway! Cant have any calls or videos
Calls..could cause an explosion..but is running out of data..wants me to purchase a google hang out card for him and just take a pic of it. And show him and he can load it..because he loves me so deeply and doesnt want to loose contact with me..even though weve only talked for 3 days..met on instegraham..and he suggested this site..saysi ts more secure..says im his shinning starr and all he has in this world ..wants to marrg me. Wanted a $ 2oo card ..I screamed no way so he will settle for $ 100 or $50..proclaims to be a forman on a oil rig- Thomas forman..

I was contacted by some one on a dating website. After talking to the man for 4 days. Asked me to get him an Amazon gift card. Online and from walmart. Demanding it right now. The man's phone number is Calif. This person is a scammer.

After talking to a man online dating service for 4 days. Today he demand a Amazon gift card. As it was urgent wanted to buy things on thr card. He said that he didnt get paid. Told me that he would pay me back. By the way this man has a foreign accent on the phone. This guy is an scammer. Never get a gift card. I didnt get one and wont get one. As i wont be scammed by him. Once you put money on the card. It is gone. Can only use it at stores.

Yes met someone on Pacer then it went to hangouts been texting for 2 months now all was Okay until he asked for iTunes card said he had no internet on his phone also working on Oil Rig since I said no deal for iTunes card our conversation are short May he found a better sucker!

I was a victim of this scan today and didn't know about the gift card approach. It was a representative masking the call from Apple, Inc., that included technical support. I feel so foolish for falling into this trap!

I feel so stupid that I fell for this scam. My conscience told me it was wrong but like other people, he told me to stay on the phone while I purchased the cards. I gave the numbers off the back and he told me they didn't work and asked me to go and buy two more cards. I screamed at him that I would NOT buy more cards and hung up on him. By then, it was too late. I am out $200 but it could have been worse. I am so mad at myself for falling for this.

I got scammed out of $1,500 yesterday. Call was supposedly from Apple support about a security breach. Someone must have dipped me in a vat of stupidity. Bought 3 GamePlay cards with American Express card. They will do nothing. Even though I reported it immediately. Today the first card was posted to my credit card. They referred to the Google Play card as a key needed to resolve my security issues which were a level 3. I’m so angry with myself and so embarrassed. It wasn’t until it was too late that I read all the Information about gift card scams.

I am a victim of these scams and for months been trying to stop them from continuing asking for more. When I tell them no they call my job over and over again. The other day they called my job 561 times. It is none stop until I purchase a gift card and send them the code. I don't know how to stop it. I have made complaints with the FTC, FBI and any gift card I have purchased, but it continues. I don't know what to do at this point.

He said he is going to send me money so I can come over to visit,first he was going to do it through western union but send me he can't do it because there is to much scammers,then he said I must buy a gift card of $50 but I didn't have money to buy it but then he said he will send me cash through FedEx,I received a mail that the package is on its way a day after the packaged arrived at Nigeria customs but I had to pay $200 because it was overweight I didn't pay the money but he is threatening me and I don't know if this a real deal or not


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