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Aug 30

Grandparent scammers request iTunes gift card payment

itunes gift cards

Do not reveal any information to these scammers.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) of Upstate New York is warning the public about scammers asking for iTunes gift cards as a method of payment. The trend began to appear in reports to BBB’s Scam Tracker system late last year and so far, there have been 200 reports nationwide of scammers asking people for iTunes gift cards.

BBB recently received two reports to our Scam Tracker from victims of the “grandparents scam.” The scammer called the victims saying they are the grandchild/lawyer for the grandchild and ask for either bail money or lawyer’s fees. The scammer demands the person pay them with an iTunes gift card instead of a traditional method.

From Scam Tracker:
“The caller identified himself as my grandson and said he was in Florida and had been a passenger in a traffic stop where marijuana was found. He said he was being held over for a hearing and needed $5000 for an appearance bond. I was to purchase iTunes gift cards and telephone the numbers to the scammer.”

“A young individual called pretending to be the grandson of an elderly couple. He stated he was arrested and desperately needed help and needed to be bailed out. The scammer told the couple to go to ******* and purchase $2000 in iTunes cards and call back with the card numbers. The scammers later called back stating the cards did not work and the grandfather went back and purchased another $2000 in iTunes cards and gave the numbers to the scammer. By the time elderly couple contacted family members about the situation and were informed they were being scammed, the cards had already been redeemed. Endless calls to the credit companies and ******* administrators resulted in no action. Police report filed.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), once you tell a scammer the code on the back of an iTunes gift card, you give them access to the amount on the card. The scammer can then use the code or sell it. However, as soon as you put money on an iTunes card or once they redeem the card the money is gone for good.

To avoid getting scammed, BBB of Upstate New York offers the following tips:

  • Never pay with an iTunes gift card. If you are not shopping at the iTunes store, you should not be paying with an iTunes gift card. Do not pay with any gift cards, including Amazon gift cards, or re-loadable cards. Scammers may even ask you to pay through PayPal.

  • Call Apple Support. Apple states on its website: “iTunes Gift Cards are solely for the purchase of goods and services on the iTunes Store and App Store. Should you receive a request for payment using iTunes Gift Cards outside of iTunes and the App Store please report it at ftccomplaintassistant.gov.” If you think you may be a victim of this type of scam, call Apple Support right away and explain what happened. They may be able to disable the card. Also, consider going back to the store that sold you the iTunes gift card and talk with their customer service staff.

  • Never wire money. We know scammers like you to “wire the money” to them, including wire transfer through services like Western Union or MoneyGram. Government offices do not require you to wire transfer money as a method of payment.

  • Report it. If you are the target of a scam like this, you can file a complaint with the FTC or report it to BBB Scam Tracker.

Remember, government agencies, financial institutions and reputable retailers (unless it is iTunes) will not accept iTunes gift cards as a form of currency.

BBB’s Scam Tracker provides information on trending scams in our area.  For updates, visit our blog and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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