A group of Chinese hackers have been able to generate their own iTunes gift cards as a result of solving the algorithm that Apple uses to control and issue the cards. As a result, they are now selling $200 gift cards online for only $2.60. The price was originally higher, but the hackers have sold their gift card generators for undisclosed sums to other hackers and companies. As a result, more companies offering the cheap cards means the overall prices quickly dropped. Using China’s largest customer-to-customer online service, the codes used to redeem the vouchers are sent directly to the buyer through the seller’s IM service:
Choose one seller whose Taobao IM is online, talk to him a little bit, purchase his product and pay money to Taobao’s online payment system, Alipay, which supports most banks in China. All the seller actually sells is the gift voucher code which they send you directly through Taobao’s IM software. You can then redeem the card in your iTunes account.
I’d expect Apple will soon be in the process of changing their algorithms for generating the gift card codes to prevent this from happening. But since there is no way of telling legitimate vouchers from these hacked versions, any that are currently in circulation will continue to be active.