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Apple must face claims it profited from stolen gift card scheme

Apple Store Cutout Nyc Update
Apple Store Cutout Nyc Update (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A judge has dismissed most of a lawsuit against Apple over gift card scams.
  • However, the company will have to answer charges about whether it profited from the scheme.
  • A court found Apple may have benefited from the schemes by refusing to refund scammed funds.

A judge says Apple will have to face claims it benefited from a stolen gift card scheme because it refused to refund scammed funds.

As reported by Courthouse News Service on Tuesday:

Apple will have to face claims the company profited off of criminal enterprise schemes featuring stolen gift cars after a federal judge declined to dismiss claims the company benefitted monetarily from sophisticated schemes that employ fake apps to swindle consumers.

A district judge dismissed most of a lawsuit against Apple but says "plaintiffs plausibly alleged the company did receive some of the proceeds from the fraud and failed to appropriately reimburse the victims."

In a written judgment Judge Edward Davila ruled that Apple "stands to benefit from proliferation of the scam" and that it was fully capable of determining which accounts redeemed stolen gift card funds to prevent them from paying out, but instead chooses not to.

Scammers targeted victims by giving "an urgent reason" to turn over money, encouraging people to buy gift cards and provide the codes, before either selling on the funds or spending the money.

One of the scams involved hustlers spending the stolen funds in apps hosted on Apple's App Store that they themselves owned as a means to transfer stolen funds. Apple would have received some of the money in these transactions because of its 15/30% App Store fees.

A judge did not accept Apple's argument that it could only operate within its stated refund policy, and said that "by refusing to refund the scammed funds, Apple prevented them from taking possession of their property and, indeed, benefitted from perpetuation of the scam."

The case will now move to discovery and document production.

In April a man was sentenced to 60 months in prison and made to pay back $1.26 million by the DoJ over a gift card scam that saw him issue himself thousands of dollars in fraudulent gift card funds by stealing point-of-sale devices from Apple store employees and then issuing credits in his own name.

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.