Inside the Shady World of Cheap iTunes Gift Cards

By Torley Wong on 6 January 2009 (Updated 8 June 2011) 63 comments

It all started so innocently: I recently purchased an iPod Nano as a Christmas present, and also wanted to include the gift of music. A casual search on eBay led to attention-alarming auctions shouting at me, tantalizing me with the possibility of getting iTunes gift cards for CHEAP!  How cheap? Apparently, if I shelled out US $5-8, I could get a "guide" with info telling me where to purchase these cards for up to "80% Off!!", one listing yelled. Yet another auction cautioned me while hawking its own ware, "How to NOT get scammed w itunes gift card code auctions." What was going on here? (See also: How to Use Up Remaining Balances on Prepaid Gift Cards)

I had to admit, the in-your-face attitude and numerous typographical errors turned me off — and I'm too thrifty to plunk down a few bucks to be told what URL to type in. (Nevermind the fact that some of these discount cards are listed on eBay…duh, how obvious.) So I did the most natural next thing: a Google search, and soon dove deeper into the dubiousness.

Several minutes later, I collected numerous pages pointing to iOffer, sort of like eBay, but a rockier road in terms of usability. Searching for "itunes 200" yielded numerous matches for $200 gift cards as low as $38. Alas, that seller was on vacation, so I had to settle for a $47 one. I placed an offer and watched the screen anxiously, refreshing the page and also checking my email. I noticed this seller was quite an inconsistent replier, attending to the newest offers bidding on his quantity of 50+ cards while not getting to first-come offers until much later. At last, I was served up an invoice, and PayPal'ed it through. A few minutes later, I received an email with the code. Terse, cryptic, and from a Chinese email address, it read:

Hi , here is the code .
$200
[CODE REMOVED]
pls use it asap.
and pls leave me a feedback.
thanks!

Too good to be true? I pondered. Why the urgency to use it? Only one way to find out. After I refreshed the page again and noticed the hotbed of activity piling up, I mused "They must really want their music!" and booted up the iTunes Store myself. I plunked in the code, and without hesitation, it was credited. My account balance now stood at $200.00, and as any music fan would naturally do, I began snapping up tracks.

But is there a darker side to this? Some would say yes. Feeling ethically conflicted, my curiosity got the better of me and I dug deeper. More info-nuggets were just a google away, such as:

For a brief moment, my pupils dilated as wide as Dramatic Lemur's. Was I now linked to criminal activity? I don't want to be a knowing participant in the cycle of identity theft and fraud. Alas, it's hard to say.

I contacted over a dozen of these gift card bulk sellers. A few replied with unhelpful or cryptic answers. I chalked part of it up to their non-native English (a disproportionate amount claim to be Chinese or Eastern European), and the other part up to wanting to keep a tight lid on their profitable secrets. The most "comprehensive" response I got, after asking "How did you get such a great deal on these iTunes gift cards?" was:

Hi, I bought it from my friend . hehe
its price is realy low .
if you like, you can buy from me and then selll it on ebay.
I saw they sell about $100 for $200 card on ebay
hehe
thanks!

No shortage of "hehe" in the responses I received, that's for sure. Like the myths behind virtual gold farming, they add color to the tales, but that's where my trail went cold. Wherever there's riches, you can count on not just greed to be present, but bizarre human behavior.

Returning to eBay, I scoured around some more. I rummaged through the gift card auctions, and was hard-pressed to find any as popular or as below-expected-price as iTunes. I even found some big names that went substantially above their value, like this $530 winning bid on a $500 Amazon.com gift card. (What's the point?) But iTunes ones can be consistently, suspiciously found for much lower. Since the majority of these sales are digital codes, not actual cards (as one seller made sure to remind me he couldn't send the card), a physical object isn't necessary to use them. Which makes them harder to trace.

What's Apple's gospel word on this? None. Apple's Gift Card FAQ says nothing about the matter yet, but it's been happening for years. This has been bubbling beneath the surface and hasn't gotten broader attention. There's been articles about iTunes phishing, but that's not the same as the underground gift card/code phenomenon.

This is especially ambiguous because we can't rule out that there is a legit channel for these cards, or that they're so affordable for another, non-criminal reason which isn't understood by all parties involved. True, the factors I mentioned above make them look very shady. And even if you don't have a tight budget which strangles luxuries like music, the goal is always to buy low…so how low is too low? Branding someone as a crook just because they don't speak fluent English is unfair, considering that they may've genuinely gotten the codes from an associate and are genuinely unaware if it's unlawful. I'll understand if Apple gets in touch with me about my account, as they apparently have with some others, and in the meantime, I'll continue to use my store credit — and ethically, look for better ways to reward the artists directly. (Which is a discussion for another time.)

The moral of the story: from "it fell off the back of a truck" to gift codes in cyberspace, there can be more than meets the eye when it comes to an unbelievable deal.

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Linsey Knerl's picture

Perhaps a cover for money laundering?  It kind of goes along with the discussion of whether the infant formula checks being sold on Ebay contributes to the dark economy, as well.  Do let us know if you hear any concrete dirt on the practice of iTunes dealings, won't you?  And I appreciate the heads up via a thought-provoking article!

Linsey Knerl

Sarah Winfrey's picture

I've heard of other deals like this...I don't quite remember what the card or product was...from a friend of mine. She eventually got too freaked out over possibly being defrauded that she didn't bite, so I'm glad to hear about it from someone who actually went through with the deal. I'd be fascinated to know Apple's take on it...

Guest's picture
Glenn

It seems curious to me that people go to such great lengths to use potentially illegal means to purchase legal downloads. Wouldn't it be more sensible just to cut out the middle man who is probably a criminal making money to commit more crime and just get music for free off a P2P or torrent site?

Guest's picture
Guest

Just what I was thinking. So stupid to use an Itunes giftcard when there's piratebay

Guest's picture
Adam

I never knew about this! It's very interesting that you got credited for the whole amount. The initial email after buying it would have made me nervous.

Guest's picture

Maybe the pirates left the CD scene and are now on the Digital scene. Its either 1.) Money Laundering/Drug Money 2.) Stolen CC

Guest's picture
Craig

Must have been a pain and surprise to find out like that. No surprise that this type of activity goes on though. People steal items all the time then sell online for less, cause essentially it is costing them nothing, 100% profit on their part. Happens with all items in the black market.

Guest's picture

I've never heard of this before...though I do kind of live under a rock :)

I wonder if any of it could be related to gray market. If they buy the cards abroad, maybe they pay less for them and make a profit in the US. I would feel better about being involved in the gray market than identity theft.

I just found your blog :) Keep up the good work!

Torley Wong's picture

@Linsey: You're welcome, and thanx for the continued encouragement! This will take more in-the-dirt investigation.

@Sarah: I'd love to hear from Apple too. I <3 the Apple products they own, but wish their lifestyle-friendliness would extend to dialog with customers.

@Glenn: Ah! Well, that's where it gets interesting: iTunes has a lot of rare, older releases which can't be found through P2P. There just isn't a demand to share 'em. Sure, it's easy to find the latest Kanye West or Britney Spears, but in various cases it's less trouble to get a high-quality release of a hard-to-find, eclectic release where you know it's already located... on iTunes.

@Adam: Yes. I've gotten many eerie/unusual emails over the years, so I've somewhat gotten used to them.

@Bill M: Wherever there's money to be made. It sounds like a movie could be made out of this.

@Craig: There is still the cost of "time", and someone must weigh whether it's worth their time to get involved in illegal activities... or do the jail time afterward. Earlier in life I visited Pantip Plaza in Thailand; I don't know how it is now, but at the time, it was pirate bootleg heaven, with walls and stalls crammed with MP3-laden CDs (DVDs hadn't yet become popular).

@Cathy: I think the next step involves locating someone who can articulate what's going on. It's difficult because as I illustrated, those who *are* making a profit illegally are unlikely to come forward. Thank-you!

Guest's picture
Ghosty

I could have told you ahead of time those codes were stolen. No one gets free, or almost free, codes for things the originating company retails for much more. As my dad used to say, any deal that looks too good to be true ...

I have a friend who succumbed to this sort of scam with a music download site in - get this - the Ukraine. I warned her, but she didn't listen; she had a new iPod and could get hundreds of tunes off this site for $50 on the credit card. Needless to say, she now has a new credit card, as the old one got taken for a shopping spree in Europe.

Guest's picture
jeff

The same exact thing would be available and happening for other digital gift cards.

This is unique to itunes the author said, so it must have something to do with them.

Perhaps Apple has very weak or slow fraud detection (so codes can remain active longer.

But I really doubt it is money laundering or we would see $300 amazon gift cards for buy it now at $200 all over the place.

Oh, question for the author, how long ago did you get the code and is it still active?

great article

Guest's picture
Delairen

Most likely it's stolen credit card use - which would also be why there was a delay in response. Seller racks up enough orders, plunks down some stolen credit card numbers to buy some gift cards, and disperses them, with the admonishment that the buyer use them quickly.

I used to work for a company that battled fraud of a similar nature. :-)

Torley Wong's picture

@Jeff: Great question. I got the code on Christmas Day (2008, of course).

Guest's picture
Markus

Hi,

I just found your blog.

The Story about itunes codes is very interesting.

I know that some people got Mails from Apple that the code is bought with stolen or faked creditcards,

but there are some difficult questions:

1. If the codes are bought with stolen cards, why don't we find cheap gift codes for many many other shops ?

2. If the answer for 1. question is that only apple's fraud section works so slowly, why can we find only US-iTunes Codes cheap ?
Why are there no offers for... spain or brasilian itunes Codes ?
Only US....

3. There are sooo many Codes sold. For these many codes you can find really less sites where people say that their account is frozen.

It's not logic in any way...

But - I have an idea:
Is it possible in any way to generate the Codes ?
If yes - this coud be the answer to all 3 questions, because the people are only able to generate US itunes codes.
Not any amazon codes, or itunes Spain codes for example - only US codes.
AND: It would be logic if apple find out some generated codes, not all, but some. They cancel the codes but they write that the account is frozen because of fraudulent gift codes.

They would be stupid to write that the account is frozen because there are generated Codes on the web ;-)

I'm interested in your answers.

Guest's picture
Delairen

I'm not an expert, but my best guess would be:

1) a) Because very few websites are as popular as itunes

B) because very few websites deal in strictly digital media that are as popular as itunes

2) Because Spain doesn't have the same market share as the US with regards to itunes - There's millions more subscribers in the US than in Spain. And/or digital media laws vary from country to country, it may be that Spain or Brazil doesn't have quite as many itunes users as say P2P users or Limewire, or some other "legitimate" purchasing program.

It's unlikely the codes are generated - although having never purchased an itunes gift card, I wouldn't really know for sure. However, if Apple were smart, their codes would be atleast as strong as a good password, utilizing letters and numbers, and being atleast 6 - 10 digits long, which pretty much means very freaking difficult to hack. That being said, how would the gift card seller test the code for validity before selling? No - unfortunately, the only real explanation is that they were purchased with fraudulent Credit Cards - and then quickly sold.

Guest's picture
Markus

Hi !

Ok iTunes is popular that's right.
But there are so many other sites where you can go "shopping" with these fraud credit cards - I can't really believe it.

I forgot to say that I bought some of these codes, (until now nothing happened with it)
The seller send me 2 codes. The 2nd was invalid. But he told me that it's invalid before i tested it.

Interesting was, that the invalid code had 10 numbers at the end.

That's why I think the codes are really generated...

You're reight the most people want US Codes, but can you imagine the people who want a code for their own country ? They would pay much more money - I asked the seller, but he said there is no possibility.

Guest's picture
Delairen

I think you misunderstand.

These aren't some couple of kids looking to score some free video games but stealing someone's credit card number and buying crap.

These are sweat-shop style chinese workers, laboring over computers all day trying to generate cold, hard cash.

It's really quite simple.

1) They rack up a bunch of orders

2) They steal the card numbers.

3) They swoop in on itunes, armed with their stolen card numbers, changing IP's as often as neccessary, and basically doing everything they can to not be detected by itunes anti-fraud measures

4) Once they get stopped/kicked out/run out of valid card numbers, they disperse the codes to the poor saps who Paypal'd them the cold, hard cash that will make their boss happy, so that maybe they'll only have to work 14 hours today instead of the usual 16.

I might be wrong - but one has only to look at the multitude of gold pharming sites for online games and their ilk to know that even if I'm getting some of the details wrong - something illicit is probably going on.

Guest's picture
Markus

Hi, thank's for your answer.

I know what you mean, but do you have an idea how they can send me a code which is invalid ?

Invalid because there are 16 digits and the last 10 digits are numbers.
It seems so much like a generated Code. (First I thought , ok funny code - but it was invalid)

If they buy the codes with stolen cards, they can't (!) get such a invalid code because the codes are "real" payed and iTunes give them real codes.

And "hard cash" you can also produce with selling cheap Amazon Gift-Cards. Directly and instant, all over the world - like iTunes Codes.

I will definitly NOT say that everything is ok with these codes. But this 2 reasons can show that the codes are not bought with faked/stolen cards.

Guest's picture
Delairen

My guess would be your code probably became invalidated because one way or another, itunes became alerted to the fraud and invalidated the code - the credit card owner disputed the transaction, or it got picked up in a sweep.

What I'm saying is, if I had to guess - the code was probably valid at the time of it's initial purchase from itunes, and that itunes shut it down. Your seller found out they'd shut it down, and gave you a different code.

Interesting side note - did you bother to try the code anyways?

Your second point relies on your first point being accurate - which I don't believe it is. However, assuming somehow that there was no way those codes could be fraudulently purchased from itunes - the original 16 digit credit was almost assuredly computer generated, by itunes. It'd be damn near impossible to hack it though. It's like a 16 digit password - do you have any idea how many possible combination's there are in a 16 digit ~number~? Never mind adding letters to the mix. The average hacker would probably have a better chance of winning the lotto than hacking a 16 digit letters and numbers code. Just because the code was computer generated doesn't mean the seller of the code generated it. It's just information being bought and sold on the interwebs.

Guest's picture
Guest

I can't speak for the US iTunes cards, but in Australia the local gift cards can often be found on sale at major retailers. 40% of is not uncommon, and 50% deals have been available for new store openings.

Have a look at http://www.ozbargain.com.au/search/node/itunes for some of the deals available locally.

Are there not similar offers from US retail stores?

-david

Guest's picture
carter

US itunes are popular because there's about twice as much content available on the US itunes store compared with like the next biggest store (UK, CA). People from Europe and Canada go out of their way sometimes to get into the US itunes store, and there are some "legit" ways of doing this without the use of itunes gift codes (a simple Google search will show you how). And it's all due to things like licensing and distribution agreements between American movie and TV studios and foreign companies (like Sky) that broadcast and sell that content abroad.

To David, there are no discounts of that magnitude in the US. The most you'll get is an occasional 10% off. Check American deal forums/sites (like FW) for big itunes discounts and you'll find none.

Guest's picture
Baffled

I bought two $100 gift cards for $3, not each, 3 dollar altogether and both seem to work fine. I used both and my account balance grew $200. Bought music, TV shows and movies, now my balance is down to 30 dollar.

No amount of legit discounting can explain this. I'm totally baffled.

Guest's picture
mandizzle

A bunch of Chinese people cracked the algorithm apple uses to make the $200 iTunes gift card. Now $200 gift cards are sold on the streets for as little as $2.60.

Source:

http://i.gizmodo.com/5167465/get-200-itunes-store-vouchers-for-260

Guest's picture
Baffled

Can't find $200 gift cards for 3 dollar any more. Either the website took them down or the dealers got cold feet.

Guest's picture
Guest

Ha your all noobs

google

chinese hackers itunes

Guest's picture
Guest

Hi there,

Anyway, Hope all of people purchase the music and other products with real money if they real like them. And hope the products do entertain you.

Here comes nice music, Hope you'd like it:
http://itunes.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewAlbum?id=306471500...

Guest's picture
pr3mium

yeah, it's just chinese hackers that sell those $200 for really low.

And the reason the gift cards were bought for more than they cost is because of "Live Cash Back"

Guest's picture
Guest

I went onto taobao.com, and finally found a vendor willing to tell me this.

Guest's picture
Guest

Actually they are mostly cracked numbers. Apple was working to replace the algorithm that were cracked. So the boys are not selling cheap they are selling for 100% profit whatever you pay.

Guest's picture
Mister A

Do the codes keep working once used or will they disappear on from only one use?

Guest's picture
Dave

It's interesting that you mentioned finding ways to support the artist more directly. I had several works published through traditional means, but later pulled them in an effort to retain not only my rights, but also not give 90% of it away. Instead, while I theoretically sell a lot less music volume-wise, I also make 80+% on the sale. I am surprised I don't see more people selling their music directly from their sites. There are definitely some artists that could start-off by adding a few bucks to their musical endeavor funds this way.

Guest's picture
Guest

I buy my cards from http://iTunes-GiftCards.com and I pay a bit more than the face value, but I'm always sure that what I get is legitimate, and will not stop working after a short time. I know my money goes to the artists.

Guest's picture
Rosalind Abdullah-Wännman

I buy my US iTunes cards from this online store to be used anywhere in the world. I've sent their link to my friends living abroad and they are very happy with the quick and efficient service. Check out their website.
http://itunes-giftcards.com/FAQ.html

Guest's picture
Guest

I used the site recommended in the previous post http://itunes-giftcards.com/FAQ.html I live in Sweden and it worked great. I can recommend them.

Guest's picture
nithin

Well actually I think by now if you have figured the answer then its fine. Or else let me tell you how you are getting them for so cheap. Well actually some chinese group hacked the code of itunes last year or so and have created a key generator. So they have been selling the codes directly from internet. If you ask them about the card then they will not give you one.

But one more thing, there are chances of your account getting blocked using those codes. Right now if you know the correct source you can get a $200 worth gift card for $3. I am not kidding but its true. Well I don't want to specify more on this because its completely illegal and also is not recommended because there are chances of your account getting blocked. At times you can fly under the radar and get benefited by this but at times you may loose your account.

Guest's picture
Guest

Great Article. But like the author said, it seems pretty silly to pay MORE for the gift card than it's worth (the links above add $5-$15 onto the cost of the cards), when you can purchase the gift cards for face value from Walmart.com or Target.com, or for that matter from the apple store:

http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/giftcards/itunes/gallery

Guest's picture
Rosalind

If you live abroad and want to buy legit US iTunes gift cards, go check out this online store. Their service is quick and prices are reasonable, and they are not chinese hackers!!!!!!!

http://iTunes-GiftCards.com/FAQ

Guest's picture
Sevil.Li

hey guys.
I sell American iTunes-store account, the account can consueme download in the iTunes-store. use this acccount cheaper than use iTunes gift card…
i had add credit card to the account so you can use this account to consume.
The price is the lowest.
if u interesting it contact me pls.
MSN: l.s.w@live.cn
Email: l.s.w@live.cn

Guest's picture
Marespenser

you before must pay to lalemany1 en ioffer, you don´t send the guitar that he buy you.

Guest's picture

Where to get cheap itune card??

Guest's picture
Joe

there is no such things as cheap itunes gift cards, there are chinese scammers that will sell them cheap but they will get your account banned, since i am not from usa, i searched for international itunes gift card stor and found http://www.itunesgiftscards.com to be legit, Low cost store to buy every time i want

Guest's picture
Gibbbo

Beware of the "cheap" itunes cards. They are purchased using stolen credit cards, and Apple will remove the value you bought when the card is reported stolen, or close down your account. Anything at face value or below is most likely stolen. I pay a little bit more, but I have never had a problem. I'm also using http://itunes-giftcards.com and have only good things to say about them.

Guest's picture
Guest

A FRIEND OF MINE BOUGHT 200$ GIFT VOUCHER FOR THE US ITUNES STORE
FOR ONLY 20$ AND USED IT.
NOW, HE IS A LITTLE CONCERNED AFTER READING ALL THIS ABOUT STOLEN CREDIT CARDS. DOES ANYONE KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IF ITS TRUE?
WAS ANYONE CONTACTED BY APPLE OR A BANK THAT ISSUED THE CC?
THANK YOU FOR ANY INFORMATION
AND BEWARE OF THIS FRAUDS.

Guest's picture
Guest

It usually has nothing to do with money laundering. These apparently mysterious sales are easily explained by bing.com ebay rebates.

Guest's picture
Guest

That's why I NEVER buy giftcards online, specially without the actual card. Buyer be aware!

Guest's picture
Victor

If you don’t have a USA credit card you can’t buy itunes gift cards from iTunes. You can buy totally legal itunes gift cards from <a href="http://www.globeitunes.com">www.globeitunes.com</a> and they will send you the code to your e-mail in a few hours. Codes are 100% legal.

Guest's picture
Yogi

Stay away from www.globalitunes.com, fraud. I got burned by them some time ago and my iTunes account closed by apple.

Guest's picture
Guest

I bought my itunes gift card from http://itunesgiftscards.com and got my gift card after 2 hours, this store deliver fast and they are legit

Guest's picture

So did you ever find out how they were getting these cards so cheap. I have been wondering the same thing for the past 3 months. I keep seeing websites with itunes cards like 80% off and I'm wondering how they get it so cheap. I have never bought these because its obviously illegal.

By the way, the people on ebay that are trying to sell informtion on places to buy cheap stuff on is at dhgate.com

Its lke 30 bucks for a 500 dollar gift card. The chinese keep hacking itunes accounts to put money on them.

Well anyways, great article and i really enjoyed reading it.
Thank

Guest's picture
manbot

BUY ONLY OFFICIAL APPLE PRODUCTS! Best Store Online for USA iTunes Gift Cards Emailed same day for iPad iPhone Apps from United States with no credit card needed , so far I find is http://4SALEUSA.COM , they sell also PSN - playstation network cards / codes , Nintendo Wii 2000 codes , Warcraft MMO CdKeys, WoW Lich King, Xbox Live Subscriptions and Points, Maplestory Nexon Cash, Trials , Games .... Good Luck....

Guest's picture

Best Online Store for Genuine USA Apple iTunes Gift Cards Code Emailed same day , great for iPad iPhone Apps from United States with no credit card needed , so far I find is http://4SALEUSA.COM , they sell wholesale and retail to international buyers mostly and sell also PSN - playstation network cards / codes , Nintendo Ii 2000 codes , Warcraft MMO CdKeys, WoW Lich King, Xbox Live Subscriptions and Points, Xbox codes, Maplestory Nexon Cash, Trials , Games .... Good Luck....

Guest's picture
Juno

I'm Sorry But Anyone With Common Sense Should Know When A Deal Is Too Good To Be True

Guest's picture
Guest

Wow. I am going to try my best to steer clear of this, because it's despicable, even for an online digital product. Apple is clearly aware of this, just wants to avoid punishing the buyer.

Well, now I know that when we had some problems and found a surprising 10 $50 charges for ITunes, we know why now.

Guest's picture
Truth

They're cards purchased using stolen credit card information the vast majority of the time. Apple doesn't comment because they don't want people buying these cards on ebay for that very reason. You can legally purchase cards via the Apple store or pretty much any retail location in the United States, and the only reason that someone posts a card over ebay is because it's actually a gift certificate purchased through the iTunes store using fraudulent information (a stolen credit card or credit card info). That's why they don't send physical cards- there isn't one.

Stop trying to pull a fast one on the industry and just buy the real card before you end up getting your account suspended.

Guest's picture
JOHN

Some of these sites are actually selling legitimate iTunes Gift Cards, but the code is scratched off and delivery via email. The point in buying a gift card for more than its face value is because it is not as easy for international persons (i.e. not living in the US) as it is for Americans to walk into a US retail store and get one (duh!). It sometimes actually works out cheaper when taking exchange rates into consideration than the local iTunes store and not to mention the much wider variety of relevant content on the US iTunes Store. I have consistently been buying from this website and have never ever had a problem: http://www.itunesgiftcardstore.com
They send an email with the iTunes gift card code and instructions to set up a US iTunes Store account. Check it out.

http://www.itunesgiftcardstore.com

Guest's picture
Guest

Some of your commenters were correct: the "cheap" codes are and were obtained by 2 methods. The first was that a set of hackers cracked the algorithm. And the 2nd: they cracked Apple's system itself. It's part of the reason why it took a little time to get you the code, because the code had to be pulled from their data stash. The caution to use the code quick was found with both methods. With the algorithm cracked, they weren't sure how long the codes would last because of the measures Apple would take. And with the hack, same thing. Not sure how long before the hack was discovered and the "theft" reversed.
However, there is a third method that is sometimes used: inside theft. An employee is contacted and emails the seller a valid code to pass to the buyer. This happens with other companies too.

Guest's picture
Guest

Apple makes a huge markup and puts a lot of restriction to the freedoms we have on our purchases with our hard-earned dollars. So who is the criminal?

Guest's picture
Guest

I buy iTunes cards in the store (like Rite Aid, where they are sometimes 20% off), and sell them on eBay to (almost exclusively Europeans) at a 20-25% profit. There are three reasons they go so high:
-Exchange rates
-e-bates and other cash back purchase sites
-*MOST IMPORTANT* private sales avoid the European Union VAT (Value-Added Tax) which is usually around 20%.

I normally start bidding at below the value, because it attracts more bidders. The cards never actually SELL more than a dollar or so below list value. I would assume those sales, unless on discount from a known and trusted retailer, are fraudulent.

Guest's picture
Guest

I think this is virtual gift card theft. I work in retail and learned that the codes on gift cards are covered by cardboard backing for a reason. To prevent people from copying down the codes, returning them to the display and trying to use them later after someone has bought it, thus activating it. Thats why they want you to use it ASAP. Before the legitimate person has a chance to use it....

Guest's picture
Thanh

I just want to throw something that I believe my expertise will help.

If you look into eBay listing carefully you will see there are 3 kind of iTunes code listing.

1. The codes sold for 20-40% off or even 80% off.
These are stolen codes or codes by stolen credit cards.

2. The codes sold around the face values and sellers do not have history of selling iTunes codes.
These are unwanted iTunes gift cards (as a gift)

3. The codes sold ABOVE the face values and sellers with lots of feedback on selling iTunes codes.
These are serious sellers that will send the codes by email.
If there is demand, there is supply. And trust me the demand is huge.

Yes I am in the category 3.
Thanh
http://www.buyfrompowerseller.com

Guest's picture
king

although there is people like that. why pay MORE than its face value? you could just go on itunes and buy a voucher for its face value.

Guest's picture
Guest

The reason you can't get the actual card is because it doesn't exist. It's a program (most likely self made) that generates iTunes serials. That's why they sell em so cheep. 15$ for 100$ that goes fast on the market. And there making 15$.

Guest's picture
Jason

I own the site giftcardsnag.com (above retail priced iTunes cards) and I sell the US iTunes gift cards. I know how these scam artists sell the cards for so chea!. I get about 100+ orders for cards a day, 75% of them are from stolen/hacked paypal accounts, and like you, they always urge me to send the code fast. I can automatically tell now which ones are the frauds and which are legit. So the ones I know are legit I email the code right away. The ones I know aren't or have a feeling they aren't legit I hold off for 48 hours and 99.9% of the time I get a paypal reversal stating the person's account was hacked and I have to return the money, luckily I do not send out the cards on those ones. I did get tricked once when I first started this site, so when I got that paypal message I hurried up and put the code into my iTunes account (prob why he urges you to use it so quickly) so I did not lose out on the money since I use iTunes anyways, but whoever he sold the card to lost out I am sure.

Hope this gives a little insight into this world.
And remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.. Someone is getting cheated out of their hard earned dollar.