Out $800, family warns of iTunes gift card scam

ZEELAND, Mich. (WOOD) — A Michigan mom is warning other West Michigan parents about an iPhone scam that conned her son out of hundreds of dollars.

Somehow, the scammer managed to freeze her son’s iPhone’s internet page on Tuesday and a message that appeared to be from Apple Support popped up.

“An 800 number from Apple Support popped up [and] said, ‘Call us immediately — theft activity,’” Lindsey Kallemeyn told WOOD-TV on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, her 18-year-old son called the number when his phone froze. The person on the other end of the line said the son had been locked out of his Apple devices and $800 in iTunes gift cards would help him get access back. The person promised he would get his money back after he regained access.

After two trips to buy the cards at a nearby grocery store, the son called the number back and was connected to the same person. The man on the other end of the line then asked for another $1,000, which made the recent Zeeland graduate realize something wasn’t right.

“Right then, they were like, ‘Don’t hang up, you’re going to lose all your money if you do’ — tried to keep him on the line. At that point, it was then he called me and said, ‘I made a mistake,’” Kallemeyn said.

She immediately contacted their bank and the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, but the money is gone.

Typically, phone scammers switch numbers once their target realizes it’s fake, but the number used in the scam that ripped of Kallemeyn’s son — 844.775.2537 — was still in service Wednesday evening. An automated message claiming to be “Apple Corporation” asked callers to leave a voicemail.

WOOD-TV left a message asking for someone to call back and explain what they’re doing. As of Wednesday night, no one had returned the call.

The real Apple website warns about scams that use iTunes cards. This is a particularly convincing one because the scammer somehow appears to take control of the target’s internet connection.

Kallemeyn hopes her family’s experience can serve as a warning for anyone else the scammers might target.

“He’s going off to Davenport (University) in the fall,” she said of her son. “He’s paying for it. So to be out $800, that’s a big deal for a first-time college student.”

“The scams are out there,” she added. “It’s not just for our grandparents, it’s for everybody and it’s local. It’s hitting home.”

If you think you may be the victim of a scam:

  • Do not give out personal information or gift card numbers.
  • Contact your local law enforcement agency.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. You can use the FTC Complaint Assistant on FTC.gov.

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