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Here’s one of the top questions we get from people: Is this a scam? Whatever the “this” looks like, here’s our best answer to that question: Did someone say you can only pay by wiring money, putting money on a gift card, or loading money on a cash reload card? If they did, then yes: that is a scam.

Here’s a video that has, in a little more than a minute, some of the scam scenarios we see – and what you should do about them.


Whether someone tells you to pay to claim a prize, help someone out of trouble, or deal with tax issues from the (so-called) IRS: nobody legitimate is ever going to say you have to pay by wiring them money, getting iTunes cards, or putting money on a MoneyPak, Vanilla Reload, or Reloadit card.

So: watch the video. And if anyone ever insists you pay in one of those ways, tell the FTC. Because that will be a scam we want to know about.

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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 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

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.

June 18, 2018

In reply to by FTC Staff

Small potato scammed
January 31, 2018
I was scammed by a person I met on a Facebook forum for people with Lyme disease. She never asked for money directly but she won my trust and my friendship and as she disclosed her employment and financial woes she knew I would come to her rescue. She introduced me to her spouse and was extremely flattering for an entire year. When she couldn’t pay her rent this past October I paid it, to the “landlord” I suppose. It escalated from there and I found myself buying groceries from amazon, having phone cards fill and even bought a laptop for her destitute daughter to be able to finish highschool with. I never suspected a thing but she managed to get about $1200 from me in the past 4 months. My family was furious with me and I feel like an idiot. I wonder how many other people she had providing her with this and that. It could easily equal a solid part time income. So it is not always 10s of thousands and a romance but it could be a scammer posing as a friend.
February 01, 2018
I was fraudulantly scammed by a tech imposter by NY phone number with TechGini Solutions and paid them by American Express and Best Buy giftcards. Please, if anyone receives such calls as a security breach threat or ID theft, please do not answer to such calls claiming to be legitimate technicians. Do Not Send any Money, a mistake I did! Instead, contact your local police and take your computer for a cleaning with your local technician immediately.
February 03, 2018
I thought all on my FB. Should read this
February 09, 2018

These romance scammers are redonkulous....I mess with them back and waste their time. No sorry nobody falls in love with you in a week I don't care h o w lonely you are wake up if it is too good to be true it is. I have some idiot trying it right now. Here is his deal dad in UK died 6 years ago....divorced mom dying of cancer....wife left him with nothing after cheating on him with best friend. Lets see he is 91 % deaf because he had the exhaust of a jet blow up in his face killing 3 of his men......oh my he even sent me his drivers license not much will be done if reported they just move on to the next one

carrie 122
February 11, 2018
I was scammed by a man online claiming to be from apple. I gave up my last $400 in a very panic, and stupid manner. I am so upset with myself. I can't let myself live it down.. I don't want to vent about it to anyone, because I feel ever more dumb. But I feel at peace on this website.. As unfortunate as it is, I do not feel alone here, and that takes away some of the sting.. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories. I hope all these people rot in hell
Pussy G
February 22, 2018
Got a call on my cell phone at 10:52am on 02/12/2018. A foreign-accented voice with noise in the background said I was in default & owed the IRS a lot of money. I would be arrested by IRS agents if I didn't pay up within 24 Hrs. Since 714-927-9061 didn't belong in the Washington DC area, I asked for their office location. They hung up on me. This is a Tax Agent Impersonation Scam which the FTC should investigate very thoroughly.
Won't happen again
February 16, 2018
I got a call from NYC Police Dept, saying it was my grandson, who was arrested, DUI, in accident with another car driven by a pregnant woman. Couldn't hear him well, said he had stitches on his lip. Don't tell anyone, too ashamed,but I'll have my lawyer call you. "Lawyer" called and said if we sent $3,000.00 he could bail my grandson out of jail. We sent it. It had to be sent to a Wells Fargo bank, had account number and name to send it to. Next day he said "good news bad news". My "grandson could get out, but because baby died, judge raising bail to $9,000.00...we sent it, and then just as we were about to send another $3,000.00 to get car out of impound, we found out it was a scam, so that wasn't sent. Reported all account numbers and phone numbers to local police and FBI...nothing more heard. Grandson was fine, in his office...hindsight is 20/20...working on pure emotion, not logic....and lost $9,000.00
FTC Staff
February 16, 2018

In reply to by Won't happen again

Thank you for sharing your story. You can also report that to the Western Union Fraud Hotline at 800-448-1492.

February 27, 2018
I had a room available to share and I posted that ads in facebook group and this girl names REKHA CHOWDARY and her brother KIRAN DONTHIREDDY reached out to me enquiring about a room and they told me they want to send some deposit in my account to reserve a room and asked my accoutn number , and I am fool to give them my account number. They got my account info , deposited larger amount $1300 and $1400 dofferent times , made you fall into their trick and asked me to refund back that amount immediately, I was nice and ended up falling into their trick and transfered lot of money using paypal and zelle transfer in email address they provided me and after they received my money , they called my bank being me and file a ATM check card fraud for the amount they deposited into my account and my bank put temporary credit adjustment ( the deposit that came into your account disappeared and bank reversed that amounts when I told them i got scammed and I didnt filed that claim). I ended up loosing lot of money. As soon as I discovered I got scammed I reported to the bank, police , FBI (IC3) and Federal Trade Commission ( FTC). My claim in bank is still in hold and Looks like Bank will deny my claim cause they told me they made a transfer accordance to my instructions. And i feel fool and it is hurting me to loose more than $6000. I dont know what to do. I have two small children and dont have money . How could someone just plan to rip off innocent people’s hard earned money? And Please Beware of these smart scammers. Don’t fall any of their trick. my friend also got scammed by same person. These people named Rekha chowdary ( phone # +1 (929) 335-3805), email : rekha. bheemi@ gmail. com and kiran donthireddy ( phone # ‭(516) 654-7934‬) email : kiran. donthireddy9@ and another email : ycs9klu @ Need to get caught and rotten into prison. this girl named Rekha was moving from Boston to Work for Pay Pal San Jose as a Intern Java developer and wanted to live in Fremont. She also mentioned that scam girl has a friend in Milpitas/Fremont area not sure if this is all true. She was originally from Hyderabad ( no idea if its true). For gods sake and innocent people’s sake , if you spotted them please report them to police so that they dont rip off hard working people’s money. HELP me get my money back.
Tired of it
February 22, 2018
I have been receiving calls as well as family saying I have several complaints being filed against me, they won't tell me the debt information just that it's from past years. How can I find out if they are true debt collectors. When I search their phone number 219-318-1200 it comes up with sites saying it's a scam. Please help, they are calling all my family and leaving the same message
FTC Staff
February 27, 2018

In reply to by Tired of it

You have rights when you deal with legitimate debt collectors. Read this FTC article about your debt collection rights.

Within 5 days after they first contact you, every debt collector must send you a written “validation notice” that says how much money you owe, the name of the creditor you owe money to, and what you can do if you don’t think you owe the money.

Some callers are fake debt collectors. They have some of your personal information. They try to scare people into sending money, even though they don't really owe a debt. Read this FTC article about Fake Debt Collectors.

If you think a debt collector might be a fake, ask him for his name, company, street address, and telephone number. Tell him you refuse to discuss any debt until you get a written "validation notice."

February 27, 2018
Calls saying i need to pay 978 or i will be sued for 22200 for bank fraud they are scammers but have my social security number scammers
March 06, 2018
i've been recieving phone calls about 5 to 8 a day from unknown caller different provinces and different nos. each time.I don't answer but would like it to stop without having to change my number?
May 04, 2018
I have been the victim of a scamming computer company this years,so I know how you all feel i keep thinking about i just can not believe it. It was so convincing and i lost money to. They said i could not get my money with out the approval FTC,Consumer protection ETC, use a # 272 279 5897.
Connie D
May 04, 2018

My handyman scammed me. He always wanted the money up front. He would find little things around the house to fix. When my partner, died, I never saw him again. He never answers his phone. I know where his wife works and she can be very nasty. In the beginning she was real nice and said her husband likes senior citizens. He said he had a brain tumor and a metal plate in his head. He worked fast and did fairly good work, but always suggesting different things to do to the house. He would want money up front and he owes me about $750. His wife said he is in Virginia taking care of his grandfather. He told me that he had no grandparents and was going to call me grandmother. At Christmas he wanted $300. for Christmas gifts and I post dated the check until January 8, 2018. He cashed it immediately and it messed up my account and I got 5 NSF charges. One time later he wanted $50 to get his medicine. I have not seen or talked to him since before Christmas. I am afraid to call the authorities since he has told me he as several guns, dobermn pincher dogs, snakes, and other common creepy animals. I am afraid if I tell someone, he will retaliate. He is about 37 and I am in my middle 70s. My partner died in January and so he thinks he can get away with the theft. Women alone are targets for scammers. His wife says she has his phone. He has never called me or communicated with me. I went to his wife's work and told her if he would come and put the floor down in my bedroom we will call it even. No response. I need help, it is driving me crazy and my partner of 11 years is gone. Can you help me?

May 24, 2018

In reply to by Connie D

Please call your local police or senior center or aarp or anyone that can advise you. You should not feel scared! Maybe even a neighbor?
March 20, 2018
Do somebody knows Johnson Stephen?
March 23, 2018
I was contacted by someone under the name of SpeedyCash who have said to pay up front with iTunes cards. They insisted that they are working with FTC and BBB. Then they mentioned my name doesn't match with the SS card that I would be reported for identity theft if I do not pay up. Can they legally do that?
FTC Staff
June 22, 2018

In reply to by Sandy

That is a scam.

The FTC and BBB don't work with any company that calls people and demands iTunes cards. Only scammers call people and demand iTunes cards. The story about your Social Security card is a lie. You don't have to talk to these people or send money or iTunes cards.

March 28, 2018
Want to know more about how gift card scams work.
June 22, 2018

hello i recently got a email that there was a lawsuit being processed if i didn't take care of a past loan they emailed me and have been texting me and i was so frightened they said if i wanted to take care of this out of court i had to make the first payment on that coming friday that was on april 10th let me advise you the guy on behalf of mark beck (Richard Davis) stayed on the phone with me until i left the wal-mart up until i was walking out and he even asked me if i had walked out and was in my car at the Wal-mart, i wired the money to Ohio Columbus to a Nia Carter and they sent me a "receipt" that looked so fake with the information of the Federal trade commission in Washington DC

FTC Staff
June 22, 2018

In reply to by lopezisel

That is a scam.

The FTC does not send email that threatens people about lawsuits, or tell people to wire money. The people who called you were not from the FTC. Please call the real FTC at 1-877-382-4357 and report this, so we have a record of this scam. Thank you.

May 12, 2018
What if the situation is like this. For example, i provided my info about my bank account. I gave my name, account number and address for them to transfer money. What would happen now to my bank account?
FTC Staff
June 22, 2018

In reply to by Anna

If you give your name and account number, someone can take money from your account. They might say they will deposit money, but once they get access to your account, they can take money instead. Contact your bank and ask how to protect your money.

May 24, 2018
The "IRS" just called me and the recording said there are 4 criminal acts that have been traced to you and if you do not call back immediately they will turn all of the evidence over to the agents to come arrest you for the criminal acts. They didn't even say a name at the beginning of the call. But it was trying to scare me. 518-636-7718 was the phone number. Don't let anyone scare you! There is no such thing as debtors prison anymore. There are many legal processes that they must go through. You should receive a court document too. And they WILL know your name!
Don't use your…
June 22, 2018
i keep get these call every day and it a scammers i get mad at these caller all day long thanks nancy
June 10, 2018
I have a really weird case to tell: 2-1/2 years ago I tried to sell 2 DELL LAPTOPS for $300 each, I got an offer from someone who answered my ad. However he told me that he a PayPal credit card to pay for it! I wound up paying the several fees because PP INSISTED that in order to take the money out if this person's account to pay by his PP credit card I had to pay theses fees!Also PP INSISTED that I send the LAPTOPS first, and as of today I have paid out the fees to this individual and not one penny has been paid for the LAPTOPS! And amazingly this person has given me every excuse in the book for why he can't pay! First his fiance died, then he list his job, his account was in Nigeria and he had to pay to pay these fees get his money out of it but his name was not on the acvount, cuz he let someone legally take it over, also his two year son dies from some stomach worm virus and countless auto accidents have happened, as of last month his mom and his Uncle who supposedly is a immigration officer are asking for me to buy ITUNES cards, the UNCLE is saying that he authorized putting his nephew in jail but if I don't send the iTunes card info to to the UNCLE to give to the FBI to catch the last person for fraud and robbery, this uncle is going to let the nephew and the other 2 with him out of jail on bail and I won't get my money that the FBI claims that they have to give back to me! Get this the UNCLE is saying that the FBI told him to tell me that they will send a private plane to pick me up to take me to Washington DC to give me the money that is owed to me!
Sean C
July 12, 2018
Scam!!!!! Scam!!!!! Police never ask you to go and get itune cards or any other gift card. No matter had sad or convincing the call sounds 99.9 % of the time its a scam...Police never ask anyone to for money over the phone or gift cards...You will probably be asked for money in a court house but never over the phone.
July 19, 2018
I was a victim of an IRS scam back in March. They made it sound so convincing and the called right after I was done working. They said if I don’t pay them they will have a warrant out for my arrest. My phone accidentally dropped the call during this so they made it look like the police were calling me. Even after paying back the $1000.00 on our credit card my husband and I are struggling to make ends meet. We had just bought our first house that I love dearly. We have only been married a little over a year. We had wanted to start a family soon but this has just set us back. I hate these IRS scammers and the way they do this to hardworking citizens. I hate how I now have this anxiety and depression with all of this. The worst part about all of this is feeling like wanting to be better off taking the pain away.
July 22, 2018
Met Michael Lawrence online. Said he was a Security Consultant under contract to Military in Ohio. Then he went to Ukraine, then Russia and says he is in Amsterdam. Wanted money to purchase diamonds. Said he couldn’t access his acct so I sent 5000 US funds to his agents bank acct in New Hampshire. Yes, I knew better, but did it anyway....three times to a total of ten thousand. Still talk to him. I did keep documents, bank transfers, names, etc. Emails and have phone numbers...beware ladies...he is good...has an accent.
October 05, 2018
We've run into a recent issue where searching Craiglist for a rental home (by owner) and they ask you to pay your application in gift/iTunes cards. We drove 30 minutes to go see a rental property and as we were driving up they wrote that we could create our own passcode using the lockbox (not true) and pay the application fee in iTunes cards. As soon as my fiance read "pay in iTunes cards" I knew it was fake. The property was for rent but hundreds of dollars more than the post and by a real management company. The post was gone when I went to search for it, sadly. I'm glad I know gift cards are a scam, but I feel awful for people who don't and lose out on their hard earned money.
October 20, 2018
hello there.... I'm here to report... someone claim to be the manager of the bank of America...he want me to pay activation fees to activate my bank account that is local(ex: in Asia)...he want me to pay at least 60-65 USD to his activists here, he claimed....i don't want to pay because i afraid it was a scam....he make me to pay because he want to transfer money from usa to here...he threatened me to report to the FBI because i don't want to send to him the item and he claimed that the money already in my acc....but i check there were not there...he claimed that it is still pending....i need to pay the activation fees then the money can be is true that there is activation fees.....i have called many bank....but they said the receiver don't have to pay anything....its only the sender will be paying the fees but it will be deducted automatically from the amount transfer.
Countryside lady
November 13, 2018
Oh no, am i scammed too?? there's this man who begged me to help him get his retirement fee thru fund transfer and i pity him so i agreed and pay the so called processing fee through bank, is this how it really goes?
February 02, 2019
I'm getting over 100 calls a day from different numbers,they dont identify,but not only that somehow they have managed get my sisters number her girls friends number and my fathers number,around 7am one morning my dad got a call,for me he gave me the number I called,the guy told me I took s 500 dollar loan on Aug 25th of 13,I was incarcerated at the time and idi not even have a bank account where he said I did,I told him its crap,he said I still needed to rectify it or an arrest warrant was gonna issued,I know better but they dont stop called two days same thing,I'm extremely angry,I dont know ehT but somehow my my info has gotten out this is not the only company either OVER 100 calls a day ,I block they call from a different number,they violating so many laws insane,i want to press charges or something that is flat out extortion,they scared the hell out of my sister telling I was gonna go to prison,I really wanna wring therr kneck I'm going to seek legal advice from an attorney to find out my optins,becsuse there costing me money I have to change my number close mmmk y bank accounts I dont knkw what info they have,I'm emotionally drained stressed to the max
April 02, 2019
I have this someone on twitter he asked to help me by sending me money but first I need to make an a payment for them first $100 so to loan the sum that he will send it to me so I was wondering if this is a scam or not please answer me.
May 16, 2019
A dating site advertising free free until it's time to talk to a real date then it's credit card time to make sure ur if age bull.... It's a scam
June 04, 2019
I joined a date site and the person I met said I need meetup id and to by three vanilla cards so the meet up could be done and I've also realised that the persons phone number stated with 0158 this is not a British number
July 19, 2019
I just got scam from a fake Social security customer service. ' with a gift card' It's all (Indian) people the way they talk is similar to scammers. And I don't know how to get my money back it's $430?
Ben Robbed
July 30, 2019
I have fallen a victon. Very painful expensive experience. $2335.00 cashed check. Shop in local stores with cash only. Right a report and send copy of receipt and card. At a later date requested to mail actual card. A lot of energy and time spent on my time. A great old saying holds true. If it sounds to good to be true, it is. Sincerely, Ben Robbed
old timer
July 31, 2019
i have been tried i think of all. now i am 79, years old, last monday i had a friend request from james raymond nicholson, his pictures were of him being in the military, well on tuesday last week, he was so in love with me, and wanted a 300.00 dollar, google play card, i told him i didnt have that kind of money, then he tells me he is a general stationed in klandair, afgnistan, and that all women in the us thought all soldiers were beggars, well i never sent any thing to him, blocked him that didnt work, he came back to me in the generals real name still inisting on this card, again i have been playing along, i know a generalstationed there doesnt have the time to sit and talk to me just about all day off and on, i started checking and found some one which is scamming i dont know where he is by the name is gilbert chisten, is impersonating the general there. i dont know who to report this slim to and hoow to get rid of him
August 27, 2019
I received a voice message from a Steve Clarke a loan Manager for an alleged Finance company. I applied for a loan as all the documents looked legit. They deposited an initial payment of 1,100 to my bank. But before they would transfer me the rest of the 5k they needed me to send back the initial $1,100 via WesternUnion. I became very suspicious, unfortunately, after the transfer. Always go on your gut feelings regardless how desperate you may be for money. Your gut feelings are usually right.
September 12, 2019
Someone apparently used someone else's bank information on their Google pay to send me money, Google and myself found out it wasn't that person account but now Google wants me to pay the money back.... what should I do?
September 13, 2019
How I top or block from my phone some scammer take my load From my phone
September 26, 2019
I was scammed on messenger and they have my name number and address and birthday. Plus they needed a pic of the receipt so they have the last 4 digits of my debit card. Can they use that to charge money on my account or what should I do?
October 06, 2019
Yes sir i am from zanesville ohio this number ask me for i tune cards i stream cards ans amazon cards he took me for 1750 and text me for more his number is 681 404 4976 i think he a scam call himself Trace A please stop him now before someone else get hurt by him
October 24, 2019
When asked to pay by wire transfer I just send message " Can't have gone wireless" they get confused. When they ask again say same. I did for the six times they asked, then emails stopped. iTunes, Google play I tell them I don't play games, steam wallet then, I tell them our store ran out of steam, boiler broke.
March 10, 2020
Should I Trust..
August 26, 2020
So I lost all my WhatsApp Data, and it was highly important things. So someone told me that a guy can help me with this situation. And I added them and greeted them. Then they ask what do I need help with. And I told them my situation. And they said that it will be $200 USD’s to fix the problem and return all my data. Now I asked how is it that I should pay, and they said will talk when I have the money. And it took place to day. So should I trust...
October 20, 2020
hello , there’s this person on Snapchat she’s telling me that I should pay a fee of 10 dollars and she would give me 1,500 and 850 weekly allowance, I told her I didn’t trust it and she said that she swears on god , should I trust or not ?