Scammers ask for payment through iTunes gift cards

By Christina Vazquez - Reporter

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. - Consider it a red flag if you are asked to pay for anything unrelated to iTunes with an iTunes gift card.

That's according to the Federal Trade Commission, which found the latest method for scammers is iTunes gift cards with a request to share the redemption codes on the back of the cards as a form of payment.

THE PITCH:

It is the newest take on a con the Call Christina team has warned you about before.

Be it the IRS phone scam or a scammer pretending to be a family in need of help fast, federal regulators say fraudsters will ramp up pressure to pay, sometimes invoking threatening language.

Link: IRS Imposters

Link: Scammers target those on online dating sites, FBI says

According to the FTC: "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."

CALL CHRISTINA COMMUNITY: RECOGNIZE THE RED FLAGS

The Call Christina Team is here to help you spot the red flags, so whether a scammer pitched pre-paid debit cards, Amazon gift cards or now, iTunes cards, you know how to identify it as a scheme to defraud you before you lose your money.

After receiving reports about the iTunes gift card payment method scammers have been using, the FTC explained that once you provide scammers with the code on the back of the card, the scammer has control of the money on the card.

"He can use the code or sell it. After a person redeems the code, you can't get your money back," the FTC warns.

Link: Local 10 viewer conned in Google Wallet scam involving Amazon Gift Cards

Alma Hoyos, a college student who experienced con artists seizing brand names she trusted in order to rip her off, decided to "Call Christina" to warn others.

"It seemed pretty legit," said Hoyos, who was told by the "seller" of a truck she wanted that she could buy it using Google Wallet.

Google Wallet may be legitimate, but a Google spokeswoman explained that it is not for purchases, just peer-to-peer payments.  

Hoyos received a bogus Google Wallet invoice telling her to buy the truck using Amazon gift cards and follow up emails with Google Wallet logos updating her on the order status.

"Three days passed. I never got the truck," Hoyos said.

She was told at the store she bought the gift cards at that they had been used.

Another Local 10 News viewer who became the victim of a prepaid card scam also "Called Christina" to share her story.

Aida Huertas of Miami bought three Green Dot MoneyPak reload prepaid cards for $500 each in response to an ad to be a mystery shopper.

Link: Pre-paid debit card scams: Recognize the red flags

One of the assignments was to purchase these cards and provide the pin number on the back, which essentially unlocks the funds, and she did this even though the back of each MoneyPak card warns consumers not to give the code to people or businesses they don't know.

What Huertas thought was a legitimate business turned out to be a scammer who gained her trust by sending her a check in the mail for $1,700 that she later realized was fictitious.

Huertas was already struggling financially, and all the mystery shopper gig left her with was a $1,500 loss plus bank fees.

Miami-Dade Police Department Economic Crimes Bureau Detective Marcos Rodriguez said often "there's no real way of identifying this person or persons and get this money back."

Link: 5 ways seniors can avoid scammers

If anyone calls or emails you asking for information or money, don't give it to them. If it is a government agency, business, or someone you trust, hang up and call or email that person or government agency back on the number or email you know is theirs.

Link: How identity thieves use your phone number to get personal information

Call Christina Team Member Zoe Haugen contributed to this story.

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