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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 ftc.gov/complaint.

Want to know more about avoiding scams? Read How to Avoid a Scam

981 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
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  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

mary
May 10, 2016
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David
May 31, 2016

In reply to by mary

I just got burnt by advance America got me for 241.00 then wanted more for other fees. Told them no all of the sudden I didn't qualify!
Renee
June 02, 2016

In reply to by David

I AM SO GLAD that I did my research first and saw your reply!! RIGHT NOW someone from Advance Cash America is trying to get me to pay $481 and telling me I will be taken to court and the papers have already been filed. Said the debt was from 2013. I almost fell for it until they said to buy an iTune card. OMG! This is AWFUL that people do this!
FTC Staff
June 02, 2016

In reply to by Renee

Please report this to the FTC at FTC.gov/complaint. Give as many details as you can about the call. The information you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

nmybonz
June 14, 2016

In reply to by FTC Staff

the fbi and local police are leaving it up to the irs to do their own investigation.
Notscammed
June 17, 2016

In reply to by nmybonz

Just got hit by one today. Same story. U have to pay $678 or we will file a warrent for arrest. I was going to make it in 3 payments but got skeptical when it said buy an iTunes card. So I started looking on the internet to see if there were scams like this. Glad I found this blog.
FTC Staff
June 20, 2016

In reply to by Notscammed

I'm glad you avoided the scam. Please report what happened at FTC.gov/complaint. The details you give will go into a database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

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

Kalola808
April 07, 2017

In reply to by FTC Staff

I tried reporting my complaint but couldn't pass the amount I've spent.
Sylvia J.
May 15, 2017

In reply to by Kalola808

Hello, do not understand what u mean by "couldn't pass the amount u've spent" Anyhow, i too was a recent victom and did not think QUICK ENOUGH to search online for iTune/gov grant scams❗My mistake cost me $250 upon providing "Nick Sharma of Federal Reserve Bank Accounting Mgr" with the cards' serial code revealed upon sratching off the silver❗
Carmella hill
November 25, 2019

In reply to by Chachedder205

How can I get my money back from sacmers I got sacmed appearing to be from u.s government department
Brad T.
September 21, 2017

In reply to by Sylvia J.

Same thing happened to me today! I feel so stupid but when threatened I let fear take over and purchased $300 in ITunes cards. I reported it. Out $300 but lesson learned unfortunately too late.
Lbarnum
March 02, 2018

In reply to by Brad T.

I was asked to get a 50 dollar one for an antivirus. I didn't fall for it, they aren't used for antivirus.
Alex
March 09, 2018

In reply to by Brad T.

Right now on Google plus, there's a person of interest who says he's in the military in Libya at a camp fighting for freedom. He also says he has millions in the bank, big houses and fancy cars in Kentucky. He says he needs the iTunes card with at first $25.00,$50.00 and then $100.00 so he can file paperwork known as supposed leave of absence to come be with me. Then the scam goes further to where he wants to meet me and talk about opening up a car dealership, buying a house, buying a fancy car and what vacation to take. For someone who says they have millions how can they need my little income? I researched this iTune subject and haven't sent anything but what bothers me most are the words they say,"trust me."
Jax
March 16, 2018

In reply to by Alex

So similar to me, he is supposedly in Qatar with us marines and needs itune cards for music and books because he is bored. They get quite angry about it but don’t give up easily
Lulu
April 23, 2018

In reply to by Jax

Can’t believe I fell for this. This person claims to be from Manhattan, NewYork and is stationed in Yemen. He is in the navy on s secret mission & claims to have been involved in recent strike on Syria! He said he was divorced with a young 14 year old son and he was an only child whose parents died in a car accident when he was 7. He claimed he was looking for love again. I can’t believe I believed this!!! There were red flags that made me wonder, especially his use of the English language, like he didn’t use the proper words sometimes, but was very good at sweet talking his way out of any questions I would ask or change subject. Recently he asked for me to help him by buying an iTunes card for $400 for his son for things he needs for his studies in London. That was another red flag, so I started doing some research while I stalled. Like an idiot, I fell for this guy, but was careful never to give any personal information. I met him by his friend request on Facebook, which I eventually accepted. He began communicating through messenger, but kept pressing me to give him my regular text message number or my email address. I didn’t do that, but eventually agreed to get google hangouts to communicate with him. That was really important to him! He continually told me not to tell my grown children or anyone about him because his mission was secret.is all of this a lie???a scam! I am educated, retired, and should know better, but not very tech savy. What should I do?
Mia
May 03, 2018

In reply to by Lulu

Wow your situation just like mine I meet this guy on instagram and told me he station in Yemen so nice and very charming and we never got into talking about gift card until later but he stated he wanna to listen to music on ITunes so I bought a 25 dollar one cuz I know the scam and how do I really know it’s him. I mean 35 not going to hurt me so I did but now makes me wonder after reading everything ..?!?
Xavier F.
June 04, 2018

In reply to by Mia

This may be the same scam , I dont know.. someone on Instagram using the name of a Fitness Model/gym owner just now asked me "I was actually going to ask if you could help with a $450.00 ITunes card, I need to pay for an important editing,photo online,but my card kept saying Not supported!" Ive not answered this person , but she is getting a bit pushy... so could this be a scam ?
Duzevich
February 07, 2019

In reply to by Mia

I met a guy on find a millionaire dating site an claims he is a international police officer in Indianapolis. About 3weeks ago he asked me to buy a $25 iTunes gift card so he can use for his phone to get more data to video chat me?? Sound suspect I think...so I jus played along WTH him. He told me wen he's finish his mission in turkey he will video chat me..I told him I want to video chat him several times now before we meet cos I want to know if I actually chatting to the right person or not?. He say that I am an he wants to meet for real...part of me say he sound genuine but other part saying no he's a scam! I don't no wat to think... But I do have his contact details an phone number which he gave me...could he be a scam or not?? It's a hard one...least if he's scamming me I do have his details an can report it. But then again are they his details or not?. Someone help!!
Gabby
April 15, 2019

In reply to by Duzevich

met a guy on whats app named James M said he needed a n itunes divorced has money two cars did not purchase that for him
Fishandchips
May 17, 2018

In reply to by Lulu

Can you tell me what name he used what his sons name was? Sounds just like the guy I was talking to.he said he needed an itune card to update his phone.
FTC Staff
May 17, 2018

In reply to by Fishandchips

You can't update your phone with an iTunes card. The only place you can use an iTunes card is at the iTunes store, to buy online music, apps or books.

mdblanche
June 11, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

THIS PERSON BY THE NAME OF DAVID MILLER IS CALLING ME FROM 781-990-2447, SAYING I OWE A CASH ADVANCE AND I NEED TO GO TO WALMART AND GET ITUNES CARD NOT ONE BUT 3 CARDS WITH DIFFERENT AMOUNTS. THE ARE CALLING MY JOB AND TIEING UP ALL OF MY WORK LINES. MY BOSS IS SO UPSET ABOUT THIS. IAM JUST GONNA GET THE CARDS SO THEY CAN STOP CALLING ME HARRASING ME. ITS REALLY STRESSING ME OUT AND EMBARASSING
Dal
March 08, 2019

In reply to by mdblanche

I knew who he is ..that his full name is fake and that scammer he has few fake names are robert, fraser , alvin long time ago ..Block his # !!! cuz lots people used their ## are from online callings not real phones,!! ..i never see him ever , block # and emails and etc !!
Scammer breaki…
May 06, 2020

In reply to by mdblanche

Please help this Guy has been talking to my Gma for the past 3 years and his name is Davidson Bradley Miller from the Bristol Uk has a little girl Wife past away in car accident 5 years ago kid lives with her granny was in the army. Please say his info is same as above. I can’t find anything abt that his guy anywhere online please help gma
Mary I.
July 26, 2020

In reply to by Scammer breaki…

I think I got scammed by this same guy his name is Gray Davis, I became his friend through Facebook. We started talking through messenger. He told me he is a widow , and has a 10 year old daughter named Chloe. And his wife died in a car accident 5 years ago. He told me he works for the Army. He sent me a picture of him in his uniform. That’s all I know about him.He told me to download the hangouts app which I never used before, and explained to me how to use it, so he asked for my email so he could send me an invite so I do have his email if it is real . He asked me buy to buy him a ITunes gift card for $100.00 so I did. He asked me to scratch the code and take a picture of it along with the receipt and send it to him. I fell for it. It’s to late now . I started doing research and saw all of this. He fulled me. He had a accent I could not understand him.We spoke on Friday July 24,2020
farrah
December 02, 2020

In reply to by Mary I.

Hi as of now i have this person on my hangouts on google ,well i know he is doing such nasty job of pretending he fell inlove with you.,and ofcourse i just go with with the flow, he is asking for a itunes card ,he said he is in military with one son, and that the reason why he use hangouts so that he wont be tracked. Then he gave some binary account where he said theres a fund on it that i can withdraw, pretty suspicious , because when you withdraw it will direct you to pay $55 dollars on a bitcoin account , it could be his,hehe he thought he is clever enough,.and now he forving to give him a itune card, .i guess this a indian scammer ,because the way he use and communicates is like of them.Hope that this people will be held liable and hope their scamming spree will be ended.Let us be wise not to fall on this people trap.
Kitty126
July 27, 2020

In reply to by Scammer breaki…

Sounds like the guy I met online. His name is Gray Davis, is in the Army and is on a mission in Puerto Rico, wife passed away in a car accident 5 years ago, has a daughter named Chloe, she lives with her grandma. He asked me for a ITunes gift card for $100.00 so I did get him one.
Helper12
November 24, 2020

In reply to by Scammer breaki…

Hi, there is a guy on LinkedIn..He says he is in the military and wants to find love..His profile name is Reed Malachovski. He too is oversee's and requesting iTunes gift card because the connection in his platoon is about to be down for weeks. He want 100.00 of iTunes gift card. I have a picture but it won't let me post.
Valntigger
October 08, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

Hi I want to say thank you for letting me know that you cant update your phone using iTunes card. I was a sucker for a military guy. Then I found this new guy what I thought would be my better half. He too saying all that you want to hear and build a relationship with you and then oh by the way I am in Africa and I need a iTunes card to update my phone so I can get to my apps on my phone so I can give this company money. I cant access it with out iTunes and internet. My alarm bells went off amd when I told him no I cant. He just says you my only hope yeah right I dont think so. So thank you for not letting fall for this scam yet again.
Alice
August 07, 2020

In reply to by FTC Staff

My mother n law has been talking to a guy that said he is from Texas but right now he is working in the UK but he has a California phone #. He sent her a pic and a name and she pulled it up in fb and it was him and his name so she believed him. I told her to call the # so I told know if she told him to call are she just called him well she said he didn't sound the age he told her are anything so we though she was done. But no so she went and got a Google card and put 100. On it and I'm not sure what and all the card can be used for so if some one can help me. And when we ask about that card she said if she wanted us to know she would tell us. She lives with us and I take care of her. But he has told her he will be buying a house for them.
Unsure
May 18, 2018

In reply to by Fishandchips

Can you please tell me this guy's name. I am in a similar situation
Trixiecatz
May 25, 2018

In reply to by Unsure

Can u please tell me what this guys name is? I am in a similar situation as I have been talking to someone that I have met on instagram for almost a year now. He claims that he has two children and that he is a widow, and his sister is raising his children while he is stationed at a military camp up in Ohio.
Grouchy_77
June 03, 2018

In reply to by Trixiecatz

Do know his name my mom is being scammed. He added her on Facebook and is no longer on her page same situation widowed with two adult daughters. He claims he lives in Arizona from Pennsylvania. He also is currently not in the country needs the iTune cards to call her. All we have is a first name of Chis
FTC Staff
June 04, 2018

In reply to by Grouchy_77

You can't use an iTunes card to make phone calls. Whoever asked for an iTunes card is not using it to make phone calls. The only place to use an iTunes card is at the iTunes store, to buy online music, apps or books.

DrBsBFF
October 16, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

This guy tells me he needs iTunes card to have enough data to keep in touch with me. I don’t get why he’d want the iTunes card if he can’t actually use it to obtain money. I only give $25 cards, he keeps asking for $50 or more but I haven’t given in! Otherwise he requested $ thru Money Gram and Western Union and Ria. Also had someone deposit a large check into my account and had me cash it in and now it’s come back “account closed” so I owe my bank $4000. Mad at myself for falling for that!
Raindrop112
October 31, 2018

In reply to by DrBsBFF

Wow I was just on FB with a guy name David Clark saying that if I send him a 100.00 he will have UPS deliver me a check for 10,000.00 of pell grant money so when I asked him how was I supposed to cash the check with out a bank account knowing it will take at 3-5 business days to clear.
km22
January 08, 2019

In reply to by DrBsBFF

Same thing happened to me. Only her Name is Annie Hernandez. Upon request for an iTunes card I’ve received pictures of her (idk) if it’s really her or not....but I’ve gotten a lot of pictures along with asking for a ITunes card an I picture of her and her kid. I don’t know what to do with the information she has given me or if I can do anything. It’s weird.
Emd51
December 10, 2019

In reply to by km22

I'm talking to a girl by the name of Elizabeth on Plenty of Fish who wants me to buy her an apple card and says that she's going to get airline tickets to come down here to Vegas to be with me she says she loves me it was on the dating website Plenty of Fish I've been talking with her for quite a while she sent me quite a few pictures somehow somehow there was money deposited into my account I don't know what's going on I don't know if it's a scam it hasn't cost me any money yet I looked up where the deposit came from and it came from a payday loan place I don't know what's going on I've tried to get ahold of this payday loan place and can't reach anyone don't know what to do
Tfromtx
December 07, 2018

In reply to by Grouchy_77

Same thing happened to me. The "military man" was named Roy Pascetti had a cute pic with him and his dog.
Gnfromaus
February 16, 2019

In reply to by Tfromtx

Hi Tfromtx, I recently talked with a guy on hangout app. Not "military man", was named Eric Frater and also had a cute pic with his dog, a chihuahua one. Could you please share the pic that you had about him? I worry that I got the same guy with you. Many thanks
no one important
February 02, 2019

In reply to by Grouchy_77

Would it be Chrishait Miller? He just asked me for ITunes gift cards and I can’t and won’t do it. Changed my info in Twitter and Instagram to private. His Twitter account is suspended now too.
Ak
July 04, 2020

In reply to by no one important

You guys can you lease share a pic I got a pic top of guy online with a cute dog. But he says he’s a construction engineer and semi pilot can you post pic please I will share mine
Fara
July 21, 2020

In reply to by Ak

I met a guy that name DAvid Wang. In hougouts ,let me buy $500 ITunes card for load his IBM
Bubbz91
January 28, 2020

In reply to by Trixiecatz

I'm in the same boat. Seems sus.... he has a boy and a girl? 7 and 5?
Norman
June 07, 2018

In reply to by Fishandchips

Please tell me his name sounds exactly what is happening to me..