Watch Out for Grinch Bots

They're buying out on-line retail sites and jacking up the prices for popular toys.

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A big part of the Holiday Season is obviously the long-honored tradition of showering good girls and boys with their favorite toys. And as the on-line nature of shopping has continued to play a bigger role in finding these gifts, it only makes sense that someone would develop a way to infuse some element of greed into the process.

In this case it’s the evolution of “Grinch Bots”, which use automated software to purchase the most sought-after toys so they can be re-sold at much higher prices. These are the same types of on-line programs that spread political propaganda and infuse social media with questionable news.

Leading the battle against these on-line Scrooges is New York Senator Chuck Schumer. He recently sent letters to the U.S. National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders Association calling on them to aid in investigations, as the Grinch Bots are relentlessly checking and ordering from retail websites. It’s believed that retailers could block these activities with technology that detects and roadblocks these bots in real-time by recognizing their behaviors. 

Once they identify sales on hot toys, these bots are able to access websites, polling them hundreds of times per second, and make purchases before consumers even see live webpages. Because they can move so quickly, they can complete multiple orders in seconds. The fear is that products could get marked-up so high that consumers are forced to pay exorbitant amounts when certain toys are no longer available from traditional outlets.

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