KU police: Scammers bilked two students who thought they were buying cars out of $8,500 in iTunes gift cards

KU Office of Public Safety patrol vehicle, pictured June 2016

Two University of Kansas students are out thousands of dollars after falling prey to an online scam in which someone promised them vehicles in exchange for iTunes gift cards.

A student reported to KU police last week that he responded to a car-for-sale ad on what he thought was eBay and paid for the car with $4,500 worth of iTunes gift cards, but the car was never delivered, said Deputy Chief James Anguiano of KU police. Anguiano said the web page the student was on turned out to be a fake eBay site.

Another student reported being the victim of a similar crime in early August, Anguiano said. That student responded to an ad on Craigslist, and spent $4,000 in iTunes gift cards but never received his car either.

Anguiano said the students were asked to purchase the gift cards — which are sold at a number of retailers in increments up to $500 each — then scratch off the codes on the back and send them to the scammers via email. The scammers promised to make arrangements to deliver the cars after receiving payment, Anguiano said, but arrangements never came.

“If the deal seems too good to be true it probably is,” Anguiano said. “Anybody asking for payment with iTunes or other gift cards, it’s probably a scam.”

Anguiano said the cases still are under investigation, but the scammers are not believed to be local, as similar scams have been reported across the country.

A Federal Trade Commission scam alert posted earlier this year urges consumers who believe they’ve been the victim of such a scam to report it online at ftc.gov/complaint.

“If you’re not shopping at the iTunes store, you shouldn’t be paying with an iTunes gift card,” according to the FTC post. “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.”

Anguiano also suggested victims report to their local law enforcement agencies.