Stopping ‘Grinch Bots’ from snatching up popular toys

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Parents are on the prowl for the hottest holiday toys, which also means toy scalpers using “grinch bots” are trying to use technology to profit off of popular gifts.

Cyber-scalpers using the online bots, which are essentially sophisticated computer programs that can purchase massive quantities of hot holiday toys, including Boxy Girls Dolls and Hotwheels at lightning speed.  This practice leaves some parents no choice but to shell over exorbitant amounts of money for toys and gifts on third party websites, according to New York’s senior senator.

Senator Chuck Schumer is hoping to enact “Stopping Grinch Bots Acts of 2018”, which would ban the use of ‘grinch bots’ and help keep popular holiday gifts affordable for families. Similar bots are already used to snatch up tickets to major concerts. Schumer’s office says the practice has shifted to high-demand holiday toys, gaming equipment, and gifts.

His new legislation aims to ban the use of ‘grinch bots’ used to purchase and resell products at high prices.  Similar legislation has been passed to stop bots from buying up concert tickets.

Schumer stated, “The average New York holiday shopper is unable to compete with the light speed of the all-too-common Grinch bot, and are then held at ransom by scalpers and third-party resellers when trying to buy holiday presents. No New Yorker should have to fork over hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to buy Christmas and holiday gifts for their children and loved ones. That’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass my legislation, The Stopping Grinch Bots Act of 2018, as soon as possible. It is of the utmost importance that these Grinch bots are stopped in their tracks, before they’re allowed to steal Christmas – and money – from the hardworking residents of Upstate New York.”

Last year, Schumer’s office searched online for some of the top holiday toys: WowWee Fingerlings, Super Nintendo entertainment system NES Classic Edition, the L.O.L. Surprise! Doll and the Barbie Hello Dreamhouse Playset.

Fingerlings, which typically sell for $14.99, were out of stock online at Toys-R-Us, Walmart, and Target. However, the item was available for sale on Amazon and eBay for as much as $1,000 each, an increase of 6,571% over its retail price.  

Super Nintendo entertainment system NES Classic Edition, which sells for $79.99, was out of stock online at BestBuy, Game Stop, and Target. However, the item was available on Amazon and eBay for as much as $13,000 each, an increase of 16,152% over its retail price.

L.O.L. Surprise! Doll, which sells for $9.99, was out of stock online at Toys-R-Us, Target and Walmart. However, the item was available on Amazon and eBay for as much as $500 each, an increase of 4,905% over its retail price.

Barbie Hello Dreamhouse, which sells for $300, was out of stock online at Toys-R-Us. However, the item was available for sale on Amazon and eBay for as much as $1,500 each – an increase of 400% over its retail price.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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