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The $1 Million Apple Gift Card Grift

Drake’s new video for “Hotline Bling” might have customers running to iTunes to download their copy, but they might not want to use a gift card to purchase it.

According to NBC New York, a 24-year-old Apple store employee was arraigned Friday (Oct. 16) for allegedly using tampered credit cards to purchase Apple gift cards and sell them at a fraction of face value. Originally hired in December 2013, Ruben Profit, the alleged suspect and a Queens resident, recoded Visa and American Express prepaid credit and debit cards to then purchase the gift cards at no cost to him. He would then sell cards worth approximately $2,000 each for roughly $200.

Authorities told NBC New York that the total value of illicitly purchased cards amounts to $997,000. When police officers apprehended Profit, there were 51 Visa and Amex cards with tampered magnetic strips and credit information on his person, along with seven Apple gift cards worth $2,000 apiece. He faces up to 15 years in jail.

The news comes months after Apple Pay was involved in a hack that included systems at Home Depot and Target, The Wall Street Journal reported. Instead of cracking the Apple Pay system itself, thieves instead entered stolen credit card information manually into their own phones and used Apple Pay on those devices to process fraudulent transactions. In fact, more than 80 percent of all the illicit purchases that were part of the attack were conducted at Apple stores themselves.

While the average consumer isn’t likely to be affected by the theft of nearly $1 million in Apple gift cards, the story may erode consumer confidence in Apple’s ability to police itself. And in a time when Apple Pay seeks to gain momentum, even a temporary bump in the road can derail adoption for a long time to come.

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