As you probably know, scammers are coming at you from every direction these days.
I try my best to keep you up-to-date on the latest scams that are making the rounds, and now there’s a new one involving iTunes gift cards that a lot of kind-hearted individuals are falling for.
As usual, there are several variations of this scam but they all depend on the scammer gaining the victim’s trust over time.
In a nutshell, the scammers befriend someone on a social media site (most often Facebook) and attempt to gain their trust by talking to them via chat or IM.
They’ll keep this dialog going until they feel the victim is “ripe” for exploitation, and then they strike.
Once they know their victims trust them, the scammers contact them saying they are in desperate need of financial help.
Some scammers will say they are very sick and they need money to go to a doctor.
Others will say their electricity has been shut off in the dead of winter and they have to pay a hefty fee to have it turned back on.
The most devious scammers of all will tell the victim they would really love to come and visit them but they’ll need money for a plane ticket, a bus ticket or a rental car.
These are just a few of the most common excuses the scammers are using, but they can be anything really – most any excuse that will push victims’ buttons and tug at their heart strings will do.
Once the victim agrees to “help” they’ll be instructed to purchase enough iTunes gift cards to pay for whatever the fake “need” will cost to get it taken care of. They’ll then ask the victim to send them the redemption codes for the cards.
The vast majority of these scams involve actual gift cards because they’re more difficult to trace, but some of the bolder scammers will ask that you transfer money from your own iTunes account directly to theirs.
That’s right – Apple actually allows you to transfer cash from your iTunes account to someone else’s account. That’s a wonderful way to share money with a true friend or family member, but it’s also an effective way for a scammer to get his hands on a victim’s money in mere seconds!
Many of the scams and hoaxes I write about aren’t really dangerous. They’re just irritating.
But this one is actually dangerous because many victims are losing large amounts of money after falling for it.
In fact, I got a frantic message from one of my long-time Facebook friends the other day asking for help in recovering over $800 that she had spent on iTunes gift cards to pay for a plane ticket so her “boyfriend” could visit her from Ireland (who knows where he was really from?).
Of course after she sent him the redemption codes for the gift cards he immediately deactivated his Facebook account, never to be heard from again.
Unfortunately, there wasn’t anything I could do to help her, and it broke my heart to have to tell her that.
Bottom line: If anyone asks you to send them iTunes gift cards to pay for anything that doesn’t involve an Apple product or service, you’ll know right away that you’re being scammed because iTunes gift cards can ONLY be used to purchase Apple products and services – nothing else!
It pays to be extremely wary about sending anything of value to someone you recently met over the Internet, for any reason. Just sayin’.
Bonus tip #1: Click here to read about several other scams that are making the rounds right now.
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