Holiday shopping for your kids online? Beware of bogus websites

BBB warns that legitimate-looking websites are offering bogus deals on popular toys

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Some of this season’s most popular toys are being used as bait by scammers online.

Thousands of people fall for these scams during the holidays, and that can mean a lot of money lost and a lack of presents under the Christmas tree for families of victims.

According to the FBI, non-delivery scams are one of the most popular crimes over the holidays as scammers prey on people desperately looking for the perfect gift.

Star Wars toys, Funko’s POP! Figurines and Hatchimals are some of the most commons toys on most children’s wish lists this year, the Better Business Bureau reports.

“The websites exist, but the companies don’t,” said Tom Stephens, president of the Better Business Bureau of Northeast Florida. “They’re using fake phone numbers and fake addresses.”

Here’s how it works: scammers create legitimate-looking websites where they claim to have popular toys for sale. The only problem? They don’t actually sell the merchandise they advertise.

Take, for instance, the website ZoGalaxy.com. The site looks professional and offers great deals on the hottest toys. But the site holds an F rating from the BBB and has 16 complaints this year.

“I was told it would ship within 48 hours of the release,” one complaint said. “I have emailed numerous times and received one correspondence that it would be received by June. The order page tells me there was an error and the website is under construction with a notice, ‘All orders are being fulfilled.’”

Stephens said these scam websites usually pop up as ads on social media platforms. Below is a list of tips from the BBB to help you avoid becoming a victim of these scams:

  • Only buy toys from reputable stores and websites.
  • Don’t be fooled by extra-low prices. Unreasonably low prices are a red flag for scams on many products.
  • Research before you buy. If a company seems legitimate but you’re not familiar, guard your personal information.
  • If you believe you’re a victim of an online scam, report it to local law enforcement and make your credit card provider aware of the issue.

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