The world of online fraud is vast and infinite, but if there’s one unifying mechanic, it’s that fraudsters are always looking for the path of least resistance to make off with whatever cash they can. And though scammers are growing bolder with a new bag of ransonware tricks to play around with, the Federal Trade Commission is warning of a much simpler tactic more and more are turning to.
Amy Herbert, consumer education specialist at the FTC, explained in a blog post on Tuesday (May 10) that iTunes gift cards are fast becoming a favored method of payments among scammers. Due to their ease of use and the speed with which they can be shared between users, iTunes gift cards have become the go-to method of wringing cash out of otherwise upstanding digital accounts.
Though demanding payment through iTunes gift cards might seem conspicuously sketchy, the FTC has logged numerous instances in which users have been coerced into loading up cards and then sharing the related codes with scammers claiming to enforce back tax payments from the IRS, posing as relatives in need of cash or even cavorting as legitimate love interests desperate for funds over online dating sites.
Alongside iTunes gift cards, the FTC identified Amazon gift cards, PayPal and any reloadable gift card platform that, once access is shared, can be drained of funds as rapidly as scammers need. As always, requests to wire money should be taken as serious indications of fraudulent activity, and the FTC called for any suspicious or affected consumers to report their incidents as soon as possible.