N.E. Ohio Scam: iTunes cards part of the plot

Posted at 9:32 PM, Apr 15, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-15 22:11:08-04

Multiple police departments in Northeast Ohio are warning consumers about the latest scam involving iTunes cards.

Most recently consumers in Cleveland and in Broadview Heights have been bilked out of thousands by callers who claim to be from the federal government, telling them they have qualified for grant money.

Investigators told the caller asks consumers to purchase hundreds in iTunes gift cards and give them the card code numbers on the back to pay the taxes on the grants.

But consumers report once the code numbers are given over the phone, they are never sent the tens of thousands in promised grant money.

Police believed the con artist sold the code numbers on the cards on the black market for cash.

Earl Hankins, of Cleveland, lost $1,000 in the scam, hoping he would be sent a grant so he could attend barber college.

"I think it's just really bad," said Hankins. "You're taking peoples money away and you're not giving them anything."

"If you really are somebody, you can send me a brochure, you can mail me anything about your business or yourself, so it will make me feel more protected.  Because over the phone or the internet or email, that's suspicious, it's not as safe."

Cleveland Better Business Bureau President Sue McConnell told consumers need to slow down, and refrain from making quick decisions over the phone.

"They're all trying to get you to immediately provide them some kind of electronic payment," said McConnell.

"Ask for written proof first, ask questions, do your homework. Make on-line background checks before sending any kind of money over the phone or in a wire transfer."