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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

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

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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.

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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.

January 13, 2018

In reply to by I tunes scam

What were the military mens names? I'm worried I'm currently being scammed...
JD 76
May 31, 2018

In reply to by Mel84

Henry Klein and Derek Ramos Henry was who was trying to scam me and sent same pics always of himself! Wanted I tune cards to so he could continue talking to me! And he wanted nude photos too!
January 13, 2018

In reply to by Victim 456

What were the military mens names? I think I'm in the same situation
February 23, 2018

In reply to by Mel84

I have a guy now and his name is Smith Darren Flynn. And he has pics of this guy too, but only 3 so far. I am currently looking into decorating a cave far away from the world wide web!Im still running him ragged to see how long it takes for him to give up. I'm not giving him enough info tho. And he really doesn't want my identity or account - there's nothing in it! Lol
January 16, 2020

In reply to by Notscammed

Please what story line they give u before going to do the payment. Its important to learn
Jaded in New Mexico
July 21, 2016

In reply to by nmybonz

I got burned from phone numbers from people calling from a 00000000 number then told me to call 2028386084 pay 200 to get my $9000 grant then called 3152263352 which was supposedly the federal reserve bank and had to pay another 499 like an idiot to receive my funds by midnight what a crock of crap these people need to be expelled from living on US soil they should go live in a third world country and learn the value of a dollar and that people actually have kids and don't want to be robbed or lied to oh well life goes on but these people need to be stopped. Some guy called me today and wanted another 600 I was like go fly a kite.
Bre ny
August 12, 2016

In reply to by Jaded in New Mexico

That is crazy I just got off the phone with supposed be the federal reserve bank and they want a 250 gift Card to receive 9000 that they say is mine. I called one of the numbers back and it said Georgetown university.this is craxy
September 06, 2016

In reply to by Bre ny

They have called me for the same thing but when I call back there number was located at Washington. And I haven't bought any iTunes card yet so what should I do.
FTC Staff
September 07, 2016

In reply to by enrique13ortiz

Government offices will not tell you to use iTunes gift cards, or other gift cards. If someone says they are from the government, and they tell you to send iTunes cards, it's a scam.

A scammer might pretend to be with the IRS and say you’ll be arrested if you don’t pay back taxes right now. Or say you will get a grant if you send money. But if you put money on a card and share the code with the scammer, that money is gone forever.

If you are not shopping at the iTunes store, you should not pay with an iTunes gift card.

March 04, 2017

In reply to by FTC Staff

I was scammed out of $3000 I have all the cards I have no idea what To Do Who To Call My Money Is Jus Gne I Was Such An Idiot But I Didn't Kno Any Better Can You Please Help Me
r l t
March 25, 2017

In reply to by Bre ny

The number 202-455-5679 has been calling me saying I have a federal grant in the amount of $9000. When I returned the call they asked for a $50 i tunes card for a registration fee. I did that then asked for another i tunes card of $200 for state taxes. Then they wanted another $100 for an activation fee for money gram. It's a group a foreign idiots pretending to be the government. Needless to say I never received any of the money and I'm a single mom struggling.
February 08, 2018

In reply to by Jaded in New Mexico

Ha ha that’s right girl life goes on. I was robbed 1475 I have 3 kids I told the scammer God will handle you and I am better than him !
never too old …
August 12, 2016

In reply to by nmybonz

the scam happened to me as I was doing my taxes online; all of a sudden the pages were rolling and acting crazy and then of course someone who acted like they were with turbotax who I was using told me it would cost $250.00 on an iTunes card to fix my computer.

I was stupid I know but if it were not for trying to get my taxes done I may have thought about it more. A lot of pharmacies also have all types of gift cards including iTunes so that is where I went to get it because I go there all the time, they are my pharmacy, I felt they would be trustworthy because I was not going to do this online.

Well, fooled me; people that see me a lot; that take money from me for prescriptions, groceries, etc; people I trusted let me get the card and after it had been paid for told me about the scam and of course they were not allowed to give the money back even though the thief had not been given the codes or anything.

I have called people and told them they should have signs in the stores because they are not Apple Stores but just put a general warning about it happening to all cards and people would stop and think. Another thing is this, I am older, yes and I do not like it; I live on a pension, which comes from the government so probably any other old people that have been taken on this iTunes ride receive social security. I believe if that is true then it is worse then just fraudulent activity of people but of the government.

They could have given me my money but their bosses tell them no, they are not allowed once they ring it up. Well, they could have told me while we were at the register and I could have stopped them; so people in these pharmacies and other little places know and they just do not care who gets robbed of their money. I have not heard from the so called computer tech because I did not get the card online but went to the store instead. I thought I was being smarter that way; well, so much for that but he has not tried to contact me because he probably knows he got busted.

I believe the FBI should get in on this if for no other reason then a lot of money for these cards are coming from Seniors Pensions which is government money a lot; I am quite sure also welfare and that is illegal; stealing from the government. I still have this card and cannot get my money back for anything. I am stuck with a $250 piece of paper that says iTunes. I think there is more than one thief in this mess because all the places involved know. I do not go to iTunes sites; I am almost 70 years old but here I am just to let people know and that I hope that the companies will, on their own put a warning at the kiosk at the stores; or the government should get involved.

The other stores that are ripping off customers who are ill, and old and just want their computers to work right so they can finally get their taxes done do not deserve to lose their money. This could have been avoided up to the time I was at the register before it was rung up and if they had just said, "you know there is a scam going around" or something to that effect I know I would not have paid for that card. Shame on the thief, shame on Apple, and any other company that lets this go, shamed on the pharmacy for not telling me; shame on the head of the pharmacy for making their employees not tell people so that way they fear for their jobs, shame on everyone involved and shame on me for being stupid. tell everyone you know about this stuff; not just the young kids; all of the young people should warn their parents and grandparents too. you would be doing your family members a great service.

FTC Staff
June 05, 2017

In reply to by never too old …

I'm sorry this happened to you. You could call Apple Support at 1-800-275-2273 to see if they can help you recover your money.  Explain that you know the money is still on the card, becuase you didn't give the codes away. Please report it to the FTC at, so the details will go into the database that law enforcement uses for investigations.

You could also look online for the corporate headquarters of the store that sold you the card and contact someone in the headquarters to ask for a refund. You can also ask your state Attorney General’s office if they can help.

You may want to contact someone in your area about the TV call for action lines, or contact your local Better Business Bureau.

June 19, 2018

In reply to by nmybonz

My friend told me she got 40,000 for just giving $500 itunes card and they asked me the same thing said i have 50,000 coming is this a scam cause she said they weren't its a 231-437-1074 number they said they were 100% federal government grant money guarantee
FTC Staff
June 19, 2018

In reply to by delacruzes923058

That's a scam. The federal government does not call people up and give out grants.

If someone wants you to pay with iTunes or other gift cards, that's a sign of a scam. If you buy an iTunes card for this "government grant," you will lose money.

June 24, 2016

In reply to by FTC Staff

T-ball06 - I just got scammed by some one in Washington number 202-899-2221 they got me for 2400.00 I feel apple itunes should have to pay even though we do purchase the cards there should be some way we could get out money back !!! I ad report this to the ttc but I'm surevim screwed no matter whom I put this claim into !!! I'm on socail security I needed a loan to pay some of my taxes but instead paid these scammers my fault for doing this but there should be a protection against this !!!
Rosa E
July 06, 2016

In reply to by Rts1984

I agree there should be some protection so am I on SSI income once a Month and I get enough to make it from Month to Month I got scammed for $$1650.00 it hurts us old people I went to the police and he made me feel like I am wasting his time and my time with this he did write the report that is why there are so many off them doing it they know nothing will happen to them it is a shame
FTC Staff
July 06, 2016

In reply to by Rosa E

I'm sorry about your experience with the police. Please go to to report what happened. The information you give goes into a database that state and federal law enforcement nationwide use for their investigations.

If you need some extra help with bills, you could go to You can search for benefit programs in your area that might help pay for medicine, health care, food, utilities and more. You can also get help with tax relief, transportataion, legal issues or finding work.

I tunes scam
December 22, 2017

In reply to by Rosa E

Yesterday once again I was contacted by a so called US military man saying he needed a $300.00 in I tunes cards I confronted him tellin him I know your a scamer and I was soon blocked.
March 14, 2018

In reply to by I tunes scam

Omg so this Marine corp guy keeps saying he needs help with some itunes gift cards that he has no access to his accts because hes in a stealth mission in africa where they deal with isis. So i need to know is that something that can be legit ir is it scam i got suspicious. He friended me on ig and added me on google hangouts i was being friendly and was saying how he likes me and all i thought it was odd but i like to give the benefit of the doubt. This person is a scammer isn't he? Can someone help a girl out please.
FTC Staff
March 14, 2018

In reply to by kitty

When someone you don't know suddenly friends you, claims to be a US soldier far away on a dangerous mission and then starts asking for iTunes card, it sounds like a scam. Read some of the other comments here. You'll see comments that sound like your comment. iTunes cards are for music, books and online apps -- if someone can friend you online, why can't he get online and buy an iTunes card?

April 06, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

Todat someone out of the blue was in love with me an is in the army station in Nigeria. His name is Mason from California, everything was fine until he ask me for iTunes to add minutes into his cell. I ask him how much and he say 100, I told him that he just knows me and now he wants money. I knew right away it was a scam
July 13, 2016

In reply to by Rts1984

Ok seriously people! Who falls for a scam where they tell you to buy and pay with ITunes cards????? What would the government want with iTunes money!! Holy crap people can be stupid these days. I just can't believe it! A piece of advice for EVERYONE out there is if anyone calls from ANY agency and wants money JUST SAY NO ITS A SCAM!!
concerned mom
July 19, 2016

In reply to by omg!

Please understand that these creeps are well trained experts and not everyone is a cynical skeptic. Many people are just honest, law abiding citizens who want to pay their debt and avoid legal problems. These creeps are specially trained in psychological terrorism. Stop blaming the victim. They were doing what they thought was the good and honest and right thing to do. The terrorists use fear and mental manipulation to brainwash these people into buying these cards. It always seems obvious when you're not in the middle of it. These people weren't aware of the scams so they fell prey. Educate rather than ridicule and maybe the next person to read this will be saved from the struggle my daughter suffered at the hands of these monsters.
July 20, 2016

In reply to by omg!

I understand how someone can feel as surprised as you at how people actually fall for this, but as well as being well trained scammers, many of the targets are elderly or disabled people who are very vulnerable. My mother is a brain cancer survivor who is missing a large portion of her brain. She is well care for but also has been blessed with a surprising amount of coherence given her condition. She has a bit of social life of her own and as much independence as she's been able to maintain. She was scammed out of $500 because she contacted me after they insisted on more money. She waited to contact me because she was absolutely terrified. Being a cancer survivor, she is often getting calls from bill collectors and other sorts. She has no knowledge of the current laws regarding financial debt and was terrified by the sort of legal persecution they were claiming to hold against her. People like her are merely victims without that ability to guard themselves from these scammers. It is the job of those who are outraged by these things to help advocate for them. These scammers should be stopped immediately. I'm following through with a full police report and everything regarding the incident. I understand it is most likely a lost cause, however, it's worth a shot if it gets the authorities a step closer to stopping these people.
Mother to smart
May 30, 2017

In reply to by advocate321

I met this guy on FB not to long ago at first I thought it was innocent, He said he just wanted to be friends so excepted his request. It wasn't long Until he said he loved me and that he wanted a relationship with me, I told him that I wasn't looking for a relationship and by the time you knew it he was posting pictures of me and him side by side not together saying one day I would be his. This happened in just 2 days! I told him he was going to fast for me. Well to make the story short. I've only known him for like 3 weeks now and he's asking for money saying that he won't be my friend if I don't send him money! Well much to his surprise I'm not easily scammed. I refused to send him money and now he doesn't wanna hear from me. I'm running away from this one. Thank goodness for Dr Phil on this one. Sincerely hopeful

July 24, 2017

In reply to by Mother to smart

What was the guys name only asking because the same thing happened to me I told him hell no im not sending you anything but he keeps messaging me
June 20, 2017

In reply to by omg!

It's not their fault even not my fault we didn't know about this since it's new to us. Even iTunes to me. Nobody. Perfect but learning our own mistakes
September 12, 2016

In reply to by Rts1984

Sounds familiar! ITUNES card purchased to return the so called "good faith" money that is deposited into your bank account to show the FTC and FDIC you are a "good risk"! (I know sounds ridiculous but I fell for this even though I was very suspicious but also very desperate.) On September 2, 2016 the same thing you described happened to me. The result of this loan scam is my account has been closed by the bank and I was told I can never get another account for 5 years at this bank or any other! I presume the bank considers me either involved knowingly or something awful like that. I only tried to obtain a loan to pay some taxes that are due on my offer in compromise with the IRS before the OIC is placed in default.

I completed an online loan application which surprisingly required bank routing, account number, SSN, online banking information (this must be so the fraudster can deposit his fake checks through "mobile banking"!!! I have never in my life used mobile banking in the history of having my account so I was particularly surprised when I alerted my bank that I knew I had been scammed because customer service told me many checks had been deposited through mobile banking and a HOLD was placed.

I am very distraught over this and have placed an FTC complaint. I tried to put in a claim at the bank which I was never allowed to do since they closed the account and every banking department I phoned to explain this FRAUD told me "we can't help you as your account has been CLOSED by risk mgmt. I think this reaction is extreme as I tried to proactively alert the bank's FRAUD department of the goings on and gave them complete information the same day they scammed me.

EVERYONE - these loan scammers are several people, they all have accents and they are giving fake names of Eric, Kevin and David Cooper (who supposedly is the "wire transfer manager" of Advance America. The David Cooper person calls from some NY office while the Eric Foster person calls from a NJ number and each one is INDIAN. So, do you really think they would have american names like Eric and David - BEWARE these con artists are in a ring! They never respond to you after they get the ITUNES code ( the fake money they are making your account the repository for) and they are very particular about where they want you to purchase the ITUNES cards.

These ITUNE cards are only required because "you have a low "credit score" and have to show their company that they can "trust" you to repay their loan - this is called their VERIFICATION process!! After you "successfully" pass their verification process, your loan will be FUNDED in 25 minutes. (I KNOW- SOUNDS SO RIDICULOUS AS I AM TYPING THIS I CANNOT BELIEVE I FELL FOR THIS NONSENSE!!!)

July 26, 2017

In reply to by Carothers94

this exact mess has happened to me in the exact order you have written it! i cant believe this has happened!how dumb uugghh
They got me too
November 05, 2016

In reply to by Rts1984

Got me for 6400. Knew where I lived, where my wife worked, how old my daughter was, etc. That made me think is was legit. It got real when they threated arrest of my 18/yo autistic daughter as an accessory to tax evasion. All I could imagine was her in the fetal position in a cell.
August 08, 2016

In reply to by FTC Staff

At first I received email threats, saying that I was going to be taken to court and arrested. This guy call him self Melvin Colman but had a foreign accent. The phone he called me from was a cell phone with a 202 Area code. I searched the number it's by a navy ship yard in Washington DC. He then started texting me saying to buy a $400 iTunes gift card to make a payment or I would be arrested. He won't stop calling or emailing me. Grrrr
November 01, 2016

In reply to by FTC Staff

In the last 24 hours I received 2 voicemails from (206)472-6025. When I called back the lady claimed to be from the U.S. Gov. grants department. She claimed that I had been randomly selected to receive a grant and gave me a confirmation number and phone number of alleged grant financial officer to call "right away". I called (206) 245-5109 and the man said his name was Kevin Parker. Then told me that I needed to go to one of his list of stores Walmart, CVS or Walgreens and call him when I got into the store parking lot. That I wasn't to hang up until we had completed getting my government fund number unlocked. That I needed to purchase an iTunes card for the amount of $250 dollars to do so. That was supposed to unlock a grant for the amount of $7800 that I would receive via Moneygram plus be reimbursed for the $250 in addition to the $7800. It all smelled fishy so I contacted you. Thank you. Sincerely, Eric
March 04, 2017

In reply to by FTC Staff

Hey they just told me I owe $400 from 2012 and they said the job i work at but they wont tell me where the court room is and what day. They just said i gotta pay now cause the fbi got a warrant for me
May 17, 2017

In reply to by FTC Staff

I got a call from someone saying they worked at better business burue in Washington DC and if we sent a payment in of 2 hundred and 50 dollars they would send us 9200 hundred dollars said they where the federal I sent it in form of iTunes cards then I was instructed to send more all together I sent 17 hundred dollars in Itune cards in promise of them money graming me 11 hundred dollars please contact me I did record some of the conversation and I have phone numbers please contact me at 540xxx xxxx
April 27, 2017

In reply to by FTC Staff

But IF they get the iTunes card info, what's the worst that can happen? (Other than the victim losing the value of the card, obviously.)
June 07, 2017

In reply to by FTC Staff

They try to give me to sign up by buying three iTunes cards were $100 each and said that they will give me $9000 I knew it was a scam right a way
May 25, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

Erma both guy ask for money are itune card put money one of them us fake name act like he was and the army other just ask to get him 50 itun card to make a phone card i know it both scan i dont send no money to them i am good
September 03, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

Yeah my husband just got scammed!! Hee fell in love in only a month!! Was sending money that we don't have!!! Plus he almost left Mee plus she told him to sell our house and take half of the money an I Know what was coming next!!!
July 21, 2016

In reply to by Renee

I just received a call from a person saying he was from the IRS and that I owed 13,786 for tax fraud for the years 2010-2015. I admit I got pretty nervous until he said that I should make a 1,000 payment using the iTunes gift card. He said that I should make two payments of 500 and put it on two cards. Once he said that, I immediately went to the website and researched the scams information and it clearly stated that information regarding making a payment using gift cards and that the IRS would never ask for payment to be made using a gift card. He even said that if I didn't make the payment the police would be at my door in 45 minutes. The IRS website stated that they would never call to demand immediate payment over the phone, nor will the agency call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill. Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying. Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe. Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card. Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone. Please be CAREFUL, I almost fell for it.
July 22, 2016

In reply to by Renee

I am too so Glad, cause yesterday I gotten a call for a $5000 approval and I called the guy back and he also told me he was from Advance Amercia Dot Com and telling I am approved for $5000 and that I need to get an iTunes gift card for $150.00 and I will get my $5000 into my bank account.. I almost fell into it cause I need the money but I gotten an eerie feeling when he was talking about the iTunes card.. I even asked why do you need an iTunes card? And he just changed the subject.. Wow!! People now days.. Smh..
August 09, 2016

In reply to by Renee

I got a call from a payday loan and they said I was approved and then asked how much I was looking to get. I told them 1000.00. they said OK and deposited 2500.00 in my account and wanted me to send the 1500.00 to them on $500.00 iTunes cards. And I can keep the remaining 1000.00. the guy said not to tell people about the way they did the loan this way and if anyone asks that the deposits were made by me in my name to my account not them.I with drew all the funds and closed out my bank account.
August 15, 2016

In reply to by Zmoster867

Did you keep the money? Because they did to me and I don't know what to do.
FTC Staff
August 15, 2016

In reply to by Darlang1

If a scammer puts money in your account, and then reverses the deposit you will have to repay the money.

scared and asshame
August 22, 2016

In reply to by Darlang1

don't do it its a scam they got me good I did it twice I am so messed-up with my bank, I don't know what to do? I
November 04, 2016

In reply to by Renee

Had the same con try to get me! It's so ridiculous I just laughed and hung up on them.