“Grinch Bots” are buying up Christmas toys

TAMPA, FL (WFLA) – The Grinch is stealing Christmas – and he’s gone high tech.

Cyber scalpers are making it harder than ever to get your hands on the season’s hot toys. Dubbed “grinch-bots,” software allows scalpers to snatch up hot toys, then re-sell them at huge mark-ups on major retail sites. It’s a tactic commonly used for concert tickets. Consumer experts say the bots find out which toys are popular before most parents do, and scoop them up as soon as they’re available for sale online.

As far as the markup goes, here are some examples:

  • Fingerlings, which retail for $14.99, are selling for up to $100 on Amazon, and some sellers are asking $1,000 on Ebay.
  • The $10 LOL Surprise doll is selling for up to $50 on Amazon, and sellers want as much as $500 on Ebay.
  • And the Nintendo Super NES Classic retails for $80, but is commanding up to 700 dollars on amazon and $18,000 on Ebay.

The National Retail Federation, and the Retail Industry Leaders Association, agree to investigate ways to block the Grinch bots, but that’s unlikely to happen before the end of the holiday season. Consumer experts say the best way to avoid being scammed is to find out the retail price before you buy a toy, and shop in stores instead of online.

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