'Grinch bots' are stealing the holiday's most popular toys, driving up prices

Grinch bots are stealing the toys your kids most want.

Grinch bots is another name for online scammers with an arsenal of software robots that buy up the most popular toys — making them disappear from shelves and online at Target and Walmart. Then they sell them for a mark up on third-party sites such as Amazon and eBay.

Fingerlings toys, normally $14.99, are being sold online for as much as $1,000, and a Barbie Dream House (about $300) is being sold for as much as $1,500.

As of Monday, some toys have already begun to disappear.

Among the toys Grinch bots have snatched:


Credit: Amazon

On Monday, Dec. 11, were sold out at Target.com and Walmart.com.

L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls:

Credit: MGA Entertainment

On Monday, Dec. 11, the $9.99-selling doll was out at Walmart.com, Target.com and Toyrus.com.

The Barbie Hello Dreamhouse:

On Monday, Dec. 11, the $300-selling product was sold out at Toysrus.com,

Super Nintendo NES Classic Edition entertainment systems:

Credit: Nintendo

On Monday, Dec. 11, the $80 system was out at Target.com, Bestbuy.com and Gamestop.com.

Grinch bots, you’re a mean one

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., issued a statement last week warning holiday shoppers about the scarcity of these toys and more to come.

“Grinch bots cannot be allowed to steal Christmas, or dollars, from the wallets of New Yorkers. Middle class folks save up — a little here, a little there — working to afford the hottest gifts of the season for their kids but ever-changing technology and its challenges are making that very difficult. It’s time we help restore an even playing field by blocking the bots.”

Schumer asked the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association to investigate the online scammers and ask its members to help consumers receive fair access to popular merchadise.

The groups told USA TODAY they would support Schumer’s efforts.

David French, a spokesman for the retail federation, told USA Today:

“We look forward to working with him and all interested parties to strengthen enforcement against bad actors and take away the tools being used against innocent consumers, particularly during the holiday season.”

That’s great. For next year.

With only two weeks of shopping remaining, that might not help parents who are still on the hunt for Fingerlings and L.O.L. Surprise! Dolls.

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