Ticket scalping is a big business; that's why we see people at every major event selling tickets outside. We also see it online as it's sometimes the only way you might be able to score tickets to the Super Bowl.
Price gouging is nothing new, it happens whenever something is in short supply. We've even seen it after natural disasters on food, water and gas. Seriously not cool by the way.
What you might not know is that Christmas gifts are in prime season for price manipulation.
What is a "Grinch Bot"?
"Grinch Bots" are what you might call cyber scalpers, with little direct human input. Computer programs are used to find and buy huge amounts of the hottest holiday gifts. So when you try to go find one for your loved one, you can't.
As fast as a retailer puts a hot item up for sale on a website, the Grinch Bots are there. You will likely not even have a chance to buy one. Which is what they are hoping for, buying them out so you can't get one.
Unless you go to the Grinches, of course. They will have them in plentiful supply.
But there's a catch. They have jacked up all the prices and that's why they do this, to make lots of money.
What to look for
All the toys that get scooped up are then sold. You will find them on websites like eBay, Amazon or even some classifieds.
The biggest telltale sign is when you see something that is marked up to insane prices.
Hysteria over popular toys for Christmas is nothing new. It goes back several decades. Do you remember the "Cabbage Patch Kids" dolls? Of course, you do.
This year's toy in demand is Fingerlings. Now, you can find Fingerlings that retail for $15 selling on eBay for $1,000. That is a crazy markup, but desperate people will pay.
How you can help solve this problem
Last year, lawmakers passed the Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act to limit bots buying event tickets. But it does not apply to consumer products like toys yet. Congress could decide to expand the BOTS Act to include consumer products later, but until then, we'll have to take matters into our own hands.
Consumers can help solve this issue by not feeding the Grinch. If people don't pay the crazy prices, Grinches won't make the tons of money they're looking for. This could help end this practice altogether.
Retailers might be able to lend a hand as well. They could try and block bots from buying mass amounts of toys at fair retail prices only to resell them at ridiculous prices.
Have you ever paid an insane price just to get that special someone the trendy Christmas gift? Leave a comment and tell us your experience.
Look out for other holiday scams!
There are several holiday scams going around. You can find them on Facebook or at your front door. Watch this video for details.