If you spent Black Friday searching in vain for one of the new video game consoles, you may have discovered they are in short supply.
Sony’s Playstation 5 and the new Xbox series are hot tickets, thanks to so many families spending more time at home during the pandemic. So if you find that someone contacts you out of the blue and offers to sell one -- at a discount no less -- the Better Business Bureau (BBB) says your scam detector should start going off.
The BBB has tracked scammers promoting deals on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 PRO, and the new PlayStation 5. After researching the seller’s website, eager consumers usually find a few favorable reviews. It turns out that the reviews are fake, and so are the deals.
Literally a bait and switch
The BBB says buyers are being told to pay using PayPal or another online payment platform. Buyers get an email confirming the order, along with shipping information and a tracking number. So far, everything looks legit -- but it isn’t long before the buyer gets a nasty surprise.
“If you receive a package at all from the company, it isn’t a gaming console – instead, it is a valueless phone cover or similar small object,” the BBB warns. “Since you technically received a shipment, you will be unable to contest the purchase with the third-party who processed the payment.”
The BBB reports that victims who attempt to contact the company directly hit a brick wall. Phone calls and emails go unanswered.
“I attempted to reach out to the email address on their website, however I received an email informing me that it was not a valid email address,” one victim told the BBB. “I then attempted to call the phone number listed on the website, which gave me an automatic message informing me that the number was not valid.”
Only buy from trusted sources
The best way to avoid this scam is to be particular about where you make your purchase. Only buy from a retailer you know and those that have a good reputation. Check for reviews on trusted, credible review sites like ConsumerAffairs.
Don’t make an impulse buy in response to an ad or unsolicited email that promotes a “flash sale” or limited time offer.
Finally, be suspicious of a rock-bottom same price for one of the hottest holiday gifts. If the price sounds too good to be true, you can be pretty sure it’s not real but is a scam.