'Grinch bots' behind 6,000% markups on hot holiday toys and gifts

NEW YORK (WABC) -- This year, more than ever, grinches are snatching up the hottest holiday gifts and then re-selling them at major markups.

In some cases, it's at a 6,000 percent premium.

This is causing challenges for parents who are desperately trying to get their hands on the most popular toys, many of which are out of stock.

Some of these were bought up and are being resold online for hundreds or even thousands of dollars above list price.

Dubbed "Grinch bots," this is the same cyber-scalping technique that can make it hard to find tickets to concerts or sporting events, only it's now being used to buy up hot toys ahead of Christmas.

"Cyber bots, we call them grinch bots, are expanding their reach and unfairly scooping up the hottest toys before parents can even hit buy," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said.

For example, a Barbie Hello Dreamhouse retails for almost $300, but on eBay one reseller is asking more than $1,700. A Nintendo Super NES Classic Edition game system normally sells for $80 but is being resold online for $13,000.

Shoppers said this is the opposite of holiday cheer.

"It takes away from the true spirit of Christmas," one woman waid.

Sen. Schumer wants to make this practice illegal, and is calling on retailers to help crack down on these online scrooges.

"The stores and the people who make the products can block the bots," Schumer said. "They can and should be protecting their customers."

The National Retail Federation told ABC News it is working to "strengthen enforcement against bad actors and take away the tools being used against innocent customers."

The Retail Industry Leaders Association said it's "committed to taking precautions to mitigate fraud and illegal transactions."

For now, experts suggest shoppers pack a little extra patience before making their purchases.

"Maybe you're going to have to wait a couple of weeks or a couple of months to get the toy that you want. But that's a better solution than rewarding these people that are fleecing customers," Chuck Bell with the Consumers Union said.
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