If someone transfers money from Google play/ iTunes store to their bank account (which takes 1-3 business days) and the account is deactivated when the transaction is pending (due to e.g. scam report), would the money transferred still arrive at the bank account?

If the money still arrives at the bank account: would Google or Apple be able to ask the money back or find out which bank account the money is transferred to?

In the case of gift card scam (in which victims are told to go to offline shop to buy gift card), if the money that was used to buy gift card has not yet been booked from the bank account of the victim (since that also would take 1 business day), would it still be possible in some way for the money to arrive at the scammer's bank account? (It is odd if it is still possible because that would be like Google/ Apple/ the merchant selling the gift card are paying the scammer in advance before they even get the money, which does not really make sense.)

2 Answers 2


I think the premise of your question is an incorrect assumption about how gift card scams work.

"someone transfers money from Google Play/ iTunes store to their bank account"

Google play and iTunes gift cards are not directly convertible to cash. In other words, their balances cannot be transferred directly to a bank account.

The way these gift card scams usually work is that the scammer will use that gift card to purchase overpriced apps or in-app purchases in apps that they have submitted to the app/play store.

Here's how I think these scams usually work:

  • create a generic calculator app and submit it to google play on account A
  • add a $100 in-app purchase to unlock "pro" features (that most people would never actually pay extra for)
  • trick people into giving them gift cards through various means
  • redeem the gift card in account B
  • buy the expensive app sold by account A
  • google takes 30%, and passes on 70% of the purchase price to the developer (account A)
  • Account A gets paid for selling their app. These funds are not on a gift card any more and are paid out to their bank account.
  • 1
    The other method is selling the $100 gift card for $80.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 18, 2021 at 6:50
  • Thank you for your answer. How long does the whole process usually take though? In the case in concern, the scammer's account and cards were deactivated within 24 hours of the scam taking place.
    – Aqqqq
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 17:39

You gave a merchant $100 for a $100 gift card. The merchant sends probably $80 or $90 to Apple or Google. You voluntarily handed that gift card to a third party. That’s your responsibility. There’s no way Apple or Google are giving money back to you. If you give items of value to a scammer, that’s entirely up to you. Even banks won’t help you if you send money to a scammer. Only if the scammer accessed your bank account.

When purchases are made with this totally legit card, Apple and Google pay most of the money to some software developer or musician. Now you come and say “I caused this mess by giving my gift card to a scammer, give me my money back”. The only way to get your money back is from the scammer.

Hint: If US immigration wants to remove you from the country, they remove you. They don’t ask for bribes. If they ask for bribes, then they are not immigration, it’s a scam.

PS. At my British bank, if I buy a gift card, the money leaves my account within five seconds. I pay, my phone says “ping”, and there’s a message that my bank account went down by £100 if I bought a £100 gift card.

PS. It’s different when gift cards are paid for with stolen credit cards. In that case the gift card will be blocked. If you bought a $100 gift card for $80 and it was bought with a stolen credit card, you won’t be able to use it. And Apple / Google won’t be happy with your account.

  • Some remark on the answer: this part: "You gave a merchant $100 for a $100 gift card. The merchant sends probably $80 or $90 to Apple or Google. You voluntarily handed that gift card to a third party. That’s your responsibility. There’s no way Apple or Google are giving money back to you." is not always true. I was able to help to get some of the scammed money from Apple (we acted quickly though). This part "The merchant sends probably $80 or $90 to Apple or Google." is likely not always true either (unless you have source to back up).
    – Aqqqq
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 17:44
  • BTW, in my bank, if I buy something offline, the money would be down in the next working day or the day after the next.
    – Aqqqq
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 17:46
  • 1
    The part about US immigration is a bit confusing. I realize that's one possible pretext for a scammer to use as a threat to initiate the scam, but the OP didn't mention immigration or anything about how this got started.
    – Cody
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 19:38
  • Cody, it's by far the most common version of that in the USA. Legitimate immigrants, especially those coming from countries where bribing an official is not unusual, get a threatening message supposedly from immigration, that they will be in big trouble unless the bribe someone. Payment in gift cards.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 22:23
  • 1
    Aqqqq, the shop where I buy gift cards wants to make money from this. It's a normal purchase. What do you think happens when you buy a $100 gift card? That the merchant keeps the money? Or that they send all of it to Apple/Google and do their work for free? PS. Banks in your country seem to be slow.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 22:26

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