We all like gift cards, right? Well, so do scammers.
At a basic level, a gift card is just like cash, and it’s also an easy, untraceable, and very convenient way for a con artist to get cash in hand. Even if a victim realizes that they have been scammed, there is almost a 0% chance that they will get their money back.
Of all the gift cards out there, currently the iTunes gift card is the one that scammers are asking for more often, and there is a reason for this. Many of the scammers’ targets are unaware of how the iTunes gift cards work, so the criminals can take advantage of that. They use these cards in phone scams, which include tricking people into thinking there is a family member in an emergency situation or asking them to pay a bill with the card.
There are a variety of scams revolving around the Apple gift card.
Apple Support Gift Card Scams.
One of the Apple gift card scams involves scammers impersonating Apple support or other trusted entities, contacting individuals via phone, email, or messaging apps. They claim there’s a problem with the victim’s account or device and insist on immediate payment using Apple gift cards. Fearful of consequences, victims purchase the cards and share the codes, allowing scammers to redeem the funds. Apple never demands payment through gift cards, making this a clear deception. To avoid falling prey, users should verify the legitimacy of such communications directly with Apple, exercise caution, and never share sensitive information or gift card details under pressure.
Apple Gift Card Assistant Impersonation Scams.
Another apple gift card scam could be a form of a business-related scam where scammers Target in executive assistant in the form of an Apple assistant gift card scam. They impersonate authority figures, like a boss, to manipulate employees into purchasing Apple gift cards for supposed client-related purposes.
In an Apple gift card impersonation scam, a scammer typically poses as someone trustworthy, like a boss, colleague, or even a tech support representative. They contact you through email, phone, or messaging apps, claiming an urgent need for Apple gift cards to address an issue, secure a deal, or for various other reasons. The scammer creates a sense of urgency, pressuring you to buy Apple gift cards and share the card codes with them. Once you provide the codes, the scammer swiftly redeems the funds, leaving you with financial loss.
It’s crucial to verify such requests directly with your boss through a trusted and official communication channel, like their known work email or office phone, to confirm the legitimacy of the request. Scammers exploit trust and urgency in such situations, so exercising caution and authenticating the request can prevent falling victim to this kind of impersonation scam.
iTunes Gift Cards As Payment.
Apple iTunes gift card scams are proposed as a form of financial payment. Recently, there was a scam alert about this from the U.S. Treasury Department, and in this warning, the agency said that scammers are calling people and impersonating IRS staff or pretending that they are a government employee, and that they need a payment with an iTunes gift card.
There is no legitimate company nor agency that would need payment via an iTunes gift card, and Apple is aware of this scam. In fact, the company even posted a warning on its site warning people that iTunes gift cards can only be used in the App Store and on the iTunes Store. The warning even goes further and says if there is a request for payment using one of these cards, the person should report it to the FTC.
How Does the iTunes Gift Card Scam Work?
You might be wondering how a scam like this works, and if you don’t know, you should keep reading.
A scammer calls an innocent victim, and through a series of specific phrasing, they convince the victim that they need to pay for something using an iTunes gift card. The scammer tells the victim to go to the store, buy the card in a specific amount, and then they need to call back, text, or email and provide the code on the back of the card. In some cases, the scammer will create such a sense of emergency that they stay on the phone while the frightened victim goes to the store to get the card. Once the victim gives up the code, the card is totally useless and the cash they spent is totally gone. Think of those numbers as cash…once you give cash to someone, it’s gone…and once you give this number to someone…the cash on the card is gone, too.
Some people can’t put their head around why so many people may fall for this type of scam, as it seems like it would be pretty unbelievable…but millions fall for it. For instance, a man in Port St. Lucie, FL recently fell for it after he got a call from someone claiming they were an IRS agent and telling him that he owed $2,300 in taxes immediately. The scammer told the man that if he didn’t pay, the police would soon be at his door to arrest him for not paying his back taxes. The man did realize, eventually, that he had been scammed, but by the time he did, it was too late — he had already given up the card numbers.
Another way the scammers find victims is to pull on their heartstrings. One popular scam is known as the “grandkid scam. In this case, the scammer calls an older person and convinces them that their grandchild is in trouble…they might need bail money…they might be injured in a place where treatment won’t be given without payment…or they might have another reason to need money. The victims here want to do everything they can to help their beloved grandchild, but the grandkid has nothing to do with it…they are interacting with scammers, and in many cases, they willingly give up thousands of dollars.
These cases are not only in the US, either. There have been reports of these scams running in the UK and in Canada.
Many people believe that Apple should be doing more to protect people, and those who have been victims of these scams even claim that they have contacted Apple but have gotten no help at all. According to NBC News, an Apple spokesman said that if someone contacts Apple Support before the money is off of the card, they can freeze the card and get a refund. If the money is gone, Apple passes the buck to the FTC and advises victims to file a complaint.
iTunes is a popular gift card used in these scams, but it’s not the only one. The FTC is aware of these scams, and it urges anyone who is asked to pay for anything via a gift card to use an overabundance of caution; this includes things like reloadable debit cards or wire transfers. Here’s the bottom line – If you aren’t buying something from the iTunes store…. don’t use an iTunes gift card.
Protect Now’s CSI Protection Certification training focuses on cyber crime but enables employees to spot any kind of suspicious behavior by teaching them to trust and act on their instincts. To learn more about our training programs, contact us online or call us at 1-800-658-8311.