We’re used to hearing of Apple gift card scams where fraudsters trick victims into buying gift cards for “release fees” for fictitious fortunes, or as “fines” to avoid arrest for tax evasion – but a pair of criminals found a clever way to generate $1.5M worth of gift cards.

Or more accurately, the method was clever, but the way they spent the cards was dumb …

The scheme involved stealing point-of-sale devices from one Apple Store to generate virtual cards, and then spending the money at other Apple Stores. The Department of Justice explains.

Jason Tout-Puissant admitted that he stole multiple Apple point-of-sale devices – nicknamed “Isaacs” – from an Apple store in Southlake, Texas, then sat outside the store, logged onto the store’s wifi network, and loaded thousands of dollars of fraudulent store credits onto gift cards.

He then loaded the giftcards onto Apple Passbook, an application that generates QR codes for the value of gift cards, and sent screenshots of those codes to Mr. Ali.

In his plea papers, Syed Ali admitted that he and an unindicted coconspirator used those QR codes to purchase thousands of dollars’ worth of Apple products from brick-and-mortar retail stores in New York.

In total, they managed to rack up a total spend of $1.5M.

A plea deal saw them get sent to federal prison for five years and three years respectively.

Syed Ali, 29, and his co-conspirator, Jason Tout-Puissant, 27, both pleaded guilty to wire fraud in 2019. Mr. Ali was sentenced in October 2021 by U.S. District Judge David Godbey to 37 months in federal prison; Mr. Tout-Puissant was sentenced today by the same judge to 60 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $1.26 million in restitution to Apple.  

A press release was issued after Tout-Puissant was sentenced yesterday.

Last month, a former buyer for Apple was charged with defrauding the company of more than $10M.

Via MacRumors.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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