Apple Gift Card Scammers Sentenced to Combined 8 Years in Prison

The scheme involved more than $1.5 million in fraudulently obtained Apple gift cards.

Attila Tomaschek
Attila is a Staff Writer for CNET, covering software, apps and services with a focus on virtual private networks. He is an advocate for digital privacy and has been quoted in online publications like Computer Weekly, The Guardian, BBC News, HuffPost, Wired and TechRepublic. When not tapping away on his laptop, Attila enjoys spending time with his family, reading and collecting guitars.
Expertise Attila has nearly a decade's worth of experience with VPNs and has been covering them for CNET since 2021. As CNET's VPN expert, Attila rigorously tests VPNs and offers readers advice on how they can use the technology to protect their privacy online and
Attila Tomaschek
2 min read
Óscar Gutiérrez/CNET

Two scammers involved in a $1.5 million Apple gift card scheme were sentenced to a combined 8 years in federal prison, and one was ordered to pay $1.26 million in restitution to the tech giant, the Department of Justice said in a press release Monday. 

Syed Ali, 29, and Jason Tout-Puissant, 27, pleaded guilty to wire fraud in 2019, according to the release. Ali was sentenced in October 2021 and Tout-Puissant was sentenced Monday. Ali got 37 months in federal prison, and Tout-Puissant got 60 months along with the order to pay restitution. 

Tout-Puissant pleaded guilty to stealing multiple point-of-sale devices from an Apple store in Southlake, Texas. He connected to the store's Wi-Fi network and used the devices to fraudulently generate digital Apple gift cards, according to the DOJ. Screenshots of QR codes holding the value of the gift cards were then sent to Ali, his co-conspirator in the scheme. Ali and an unindicted associate were then able to use the QR codes to purchase thousands of dollars worth of products from Apple stores in New York, according to the release. 

The FBI's Dallas Field Office conducted the investigation and the New York Field Office assisted in Ali's arrest, according to the DOJ.

"The FBI is committed to tackling fraud schemes from every angle," Dallas FBI Special Agent Matthew J. DeSarno said in the release. "This carefully orchestrated scheme resulted in financial loss for a large corporation, and that fraud also victimizes American consumers." 

Apple didn't respond to a request for comment.

Correction, 12:13 p.m.: An earlier version of this story had an incorrect prison sentence length based on an error in the DOJ press release. Ali and Tout-Puissant were sentenced to a combined 8 years in federal prison.