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ITunes Scam

Scam Alert

The Cuyahoga County Department of Consumer Affairs is warning residents about a costly new version of the grandparent scam. Seniors have lost up to $12,000 apiece in this evolving scam, which uses iTunes as the form of payment. 

An 87-year-old Cuyahoga County man lost $12,000 when a scammer pretending to be his grandson called and asked for help.  The “grandson” said he was in jail after causing an accident while texting and driving. He then handed the phone off to a bogus “attorney,” who told the grandfather that he would need to pay $4,000 using iTunes gift cards. Each time the grandfather paid, he got another call telling him about new charges.

A 79-year-old Cuyahoga County resident was tricked by a scammer pretending to be her granddaughter. The girl pleaded for the grandma to help her pay bail without telling the girl’s parents.  When the grandmother said she didn’t have the money to pay, a bogus attorney advised her to take out a cash advance against her credit cards so she could purchase the iTunes gift cards.  The woman was left $7,000 in debt.

Scammers con victims into reading the iTunes card numbers to them over the phone. That allows the scammers to get the information they need to sell the cards online. ITunes cards have high resale value in some online markets.

Seniors say the callers were convincing: They sounded like their grandchildren, or masked their voices by sobbing or claiming they had suffered a broken nose in a car crash. In one case, a caller addressed the grandfather using a familiar nickname.

Consumers should:

Cuyahoga County residents who encounter this or any other scam should call the Department of Consumer Affairs at 216-443-7035.


The Department of Consumer Affairs’ mission is to make sure people who live or shop in Cuyahoga County get what they pay for.