Scammers targeting parents shopping for hot Christmas toy

AUSTIN (KXAN) — There is one every holiday: a hot toy list. This year Fingerlings are on that list, and as parents scramble to find them, scammers are close behind. Fingerlings are sold out in many stores. The toys wrap around a finger, move and make sounds.

Sunday morning, parents like Jill Adams rushed to Toys “R” Us in Austin, which just got a shipment.

“I looked online, but there were none available,” Adams said. “We came as soon as we could.”

By Sunday evening the toy store still had some, but the toys were going quickly.

Kimberly Cantrell had been looking for the Fingerlings for weeks. She finally found them online in November, but when she got her order, the mom of two said it wasn’t the real thing.

“I was really upset. We waited an entire month,” said Cantrell.  “It was an off-brand, wacky, some crazy — it’s called ‘Happy Monkey.’ I was so mad, and it was more than the original Fingerlings.”

Cantrell, like many other parents, are now waiting on a refund. She ended up finding a few real Fingerlings for her kids at a nearby toy store.

The BBB has received a number of complaints about online sales.

“The more untouchable, if you will, that this becomes, the more scams advertising you may see,” explained Erin Dufner, Chief Marketing Officer with BBB. “If it doesn’t have dot-com or dot-net or some kind of internet extension or website URL extension that you are familiar with, that could absolutely be a red flag.”

The BBB has these tips so you can avoid this scam:

  • Buy from reputable retailers. Some parents have run into problems with third-party vendors selling fake toys on websites like Amazon
  • Use a credit card so you can dispute a claim if you run into any issues
  • Do a quick web search that can help you find reviews and complaints
  • Go to BBB.org/shoppingonline for more advice

An Amazon spokesperson said,  “We want customers to buy with confidence anytime they make a purchase on Amazon.com. With the A-to-Z Guarantee, customers are always protected, whether they make a purchase from Amazon or a third-party seller. If ever the product doesn’t arrive or isn’t as advertised, customers can contact customer support for a full refund of their order.”

WowWee, the maker of the popular monkeys, is going after counterfeit sellers. In a statement a company spokesperson explained,  “As we continue to take steps to protect our consumers, we also encourage them to be diligent when purchasing Fingerlings and look for telltale signs of counterfeits — such as spelling errors on the packaging, the improper use of the Fingerlings brand name (e.g. Happy Monkey, Fun Monkey, Finger Monkey, Baby Monkey, etc.), prices that are unusually low, and other details that seem suspicious, such as products with plastic hair or low-quality packaging and products.”

The spokesperson also said that the company recommends customers buy their Fingerlings from an authorized retailer.