iTunes Gift Card Email Scams: What to Do about This Problem to Avoid Becoming a Victim
Apple iTunes gift card scams have been around since the mid-2000s, when Apple first released gift cards. At first, the cards were suitable only for iTunes, but later they spread to all the stores of the company, as evidenced by their current name – App Store & iTunes Gift Cards.
There are several of the most common variants of iTunes gift card scams, but as a rule, attackers adhere to the following scheme: criminals deceive the victim that it is practically life and death, and urgently need to pay taxes, hospital bills, arrears, utility bills, and so on… The victim is encouraged to purchase an iTunes card and provide the fraudster with its number and PIN.
Most often, these schemes are aimed at seniors who do not understand that gift cards can only be used in Apple stores and are not suitable for paying bills or taxes, for example. When victims are truly aware, iTunes gift card email scams happened and the funds from the gift card have long been spent.
The funds obtained in this way are usually laundered in various ways:
- the funds are used to buy Apple devices, which are then resold for cash;
- the funds are used to buy digital currency or peckers in affined applications and games, which is why the money ends up in the “pockets” of the criminals themselves or the partner company;
Gift card details are resold to other criminals. According to a 2018 report by the Federal Trade Commission of the United States, a quarter of all victims of fraudsters purchased gift cards and passed their data on to the attackers. At the same time, iTunes gift cards accounted for 23.7% of all cases.
The Federal Trade Commission has estimated losses from iTunes gift card fraud at approximately $1 billion.
As crazy as it sounds, scammers are calling people, pretending to be Her Majesty’s Tax and Customs, and asking the person to pay a large tax bill – by buying large amounts of iTunes vouchers.
“Plaintiffs say Apple is well aware of the issue, but the company is doing nothing to combat abuse other than posting a simple warning on its website.
- Apple is interested in the fraud to continue, as it receives a 30% commission on all fraudulent proceeds. Knowingly or recklessly, Apple plays a vital role in this scheme by not preventing fraudulent payments,” the court documents say.
The lawsuit says that Apple falsely informs the victims that one hundred percent of their funds are irretrievably lost. In fact, the company retains 30% of the funds spent and, in theory, this amount remains available to the consumer. The remaining funds are stored for 4-6 weeks and this balance can be returned to the consumer.
Plaintiffs (Seniors, 50+) allege that Apple is violating the California Consumer Remedies Act, which guarantees victims assistance in the event of any loss they incur as a result of illegal activities. The plaintiffs also want to secure a ban on the transfer of funds by the Apple developer, whose accounts are associated with gift card fraud.
How to Avoid Scams with iTunes Gift Cards?
It’s no secret that Apple products are extremely popular. This makes it easy for scammers to resell gift cards at auctions or through social media. Most often, cards are sold much cheaper than their real value. For example, cards with a face value of 100 euros are sold for 75 euros.
- Do not buy iTunes Gift Cards unless you plan to use the iTunes Store, App Store, iBooks Store, iCloud, or Apple Music. iTunes Gift Cards are not suitable for paying for any other services and goods!
- Never share the activation code from iTunes Gift Cards with third parties.
- Remember and also inform loved ones (especially the elderly) that any fines, donations, or medical expenses cannot be paid with gift cards.
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