7 On Your Side | Baby formula scams are skyrocketing: How to avoid getting duped

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Friday, May 20, 2022
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Sparked by the unprecedented shortage in formula, thieves are either selling formula at hundreds of dollars per cannister or looking to steal your money and your identity.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- Consumer watchdogs are warning parents to be on the lookout for baby formula scams.

Sparked by the unprecedented shortage in formula, thieves are either selling formula at hundreds of dollars per cannister or looking to steal your money and your identity.

7 On Your Side's Nina Pineda has the red flags you need to watch for.

"It is sad," said Claire Rosenzweig, president and CEO of the Metro NY Better Business Bureau. "It's pathetic. It's sickening."

Her choice words are for the pushers and peddlers seizing on the baby formula shortage to scam those desperate for the liquid gold right now.

"You have to wonder, even if I get it, is it going to be safe to feed my baby?" she said.

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We found one mom who was swindled by a woman pretending to another mom with the formula she needed for her medically complex baby.

"I just don't want to believe someone would do this to a mother wanting to feed her infant," she wrote after sharing the scammer's post with four other mothers.

They all complained they sent money, waiting for the cans of powdered formula that never arrived. Then, the seller blocked them.

"When there's always more demand than there is supply, you're going to have scammers taking advantage of that," said Colleen Tressler, senior project manager in the Federal Trade Commission's Division of Consumer and Business Education.

The FTC says complaints have come in about fake websites and social media platforms with product images of well known and trusted brands, all to trick you into thinking you're buying products from the company's official websites.

But they're really tricking frantic parents into paying for bogus products.

"People ordered something online, nothing was delivered," Tressler said. "Their credit card was charged."

The BBB of Metro New York says red flags of a scam include pressure tactics to act now because of limited supply, so watch for scammers who ask you to pay on a cash app like Zelle or with a gift card.

"You have to think, nobody else in the world is finding this baby formula," Rosenzweig said. "All of the sudden, I'm finding some place that says they have it, usually at a steep price."

One mom happily downloaded a cash app, expressing her appreciation from one mom to another mother.

"It's so kind of you," she texted before being asked send $350 for a canister from an alleged baby formula wholesaler who was really a scammer.

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"Absolutely disgusted" she wrote after. "Legit shame on you".

Remember to check out the company before you pay, and Google the name with terms like "review," "complaint" or "scam."

Also, check complaint forums like BBB Scam Tracker, and report fraud to local authorities.

It will help law enforcement stop the scammers.

CLICK HERE to file a complaint with the BBB.

CLICK HERE for the consumer alert from the FTC.

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