Baby formula, CBD gummies, calls from Amazon — all potential scams – Detroit Free Press

The watch-out-for-the-latest-hot-scam list keeps growing and now includes baby formula that’s in short supply, CBD gummies, and, yes, more Amazon scams. 

Many times, the odds of losing money to crooks goes up when we’re under a great deal of stress, panicked about taking care of our families and trying to fix a problem quickly by shopping online. 

Shopping online for baby formula could prove to be a bad mix

Mothers are being warned to watch out for potential con artists as families try to cope with the shortage of baby formula. 

The extremely limited supply of baby formula on store shelves is likely to drive many parents and caregivers to shop online. But the Better Business Bureau is warning that online shopping scams are quite prevalent for many goods. 

Fraudsters can set up fake websites that might impersonate some well-known outfits. Or they may trick consumers with social media posts that claim to be posted by someone who has extra formula and would be willing to take cash via a cash app. 

The BBB did not hear of specific consumer complaints in mid-May but noted that well-publicized shortages can give fraudsters another way to steal money or ID information from consumers.

Shelves typically stocked with baby formula sit mostly empty at a store in San Antonio, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Parents across the U.S. are scrambling to find baby formula because supply disruptions and a massive safety recall have swept many leading brands off store shelves. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) ORG XMIT: TXEG101

If you’re tempted by a website or social media post, don’t act quickly simply because you’re on edge. 

Go online and search the word “scam” to look for other complaints or similar pitches. 

Be skeptical of promises or pitches that you receive out of blue on social media or via email.   

Scams relating to buying goods online were dubbed the the top riskiest scam type for the second year in a row, according to a BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report.

Online shopping scams made up 37.4% of all scams reported by consumers to BBB Scam Tracker in 2021. Nearly 75% of those reporting an online shopping scam lost money to that scam. 

Many times, people lost hundreds or thousands of dollars buying puppies online but people lose money buying other items, such as swimsuits, shoes, watches, fake designer handbags and exercise equipment that never shows up. 

Now, the fear is that the list will extend to baby formula. 

Be careful of imposter websites that might pretend to be a popular retailer. Don’t be fooled by positive reviews that might be repeated on other websites. Look for odd phrases or misspelled words.

Look twice at URLs and app names. Misplaced or transposed letters are clues of a scam. 

Avoid deals that sound too good to be true.

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Don’t pay by Zelle, money order or gift card — where it can be impossible to get your money back in a scam. 

Experts suggest that consumers use a credit card, which will offer more protection against fraud than other payment options.

Consumers not high on CBD gummy scam

Hundreds of dollars in unexpected credit card charges are suddenly showing up after some consumers thought they had a deal on discounted Cannabidiol gummies bought online.

The scam, according to a BBB alert, starts out with what looks a celebrity endorsement. 

Reports from consumers on the BBB Scam Tracker mentioned seeing endorsements — which were not real — from the TV show “Shark Tank,” Hollywood star Kevin Costner, actress Mayim Bialik, and journalist Katie Couric.

People are discovering gummies with CBD, which are shaped differently depending on the seller and can look like this, as stress related to COVID-19 grows.

New customers are being offered a sizable discount, such as buy-one-get-one free. 

The problem? You’re given your credit card number to someone who plans to ding it for repeated charges. Some victims report being charged for extra bottles or on-going monthly subscriptions. Others are charged random amounts for products they never received.

Many times, consumers have a tough time getting their money back. 

Many scam reports involve consumers who ended up unknowingly signing up for ongoing monthly reorder programs.

Take extra time to research complaints of given products and promotions online. Several consumers, for example, have reported issues at the BBB with “Fun Drops CBD Gummies.” Some complained that they placed an order that would cost $39.99 or $69 but then they were charged $199 after an initial order. 

The customer support line at the Tampa, Florida, based company has extremely long wait times, as well, making it difficult to get a problem fixed. The company did post responses at the BBB site in May to address individual customer complaints made through the BBB. 

No, Amazon isn’t calling

Consumers in Michigan and elsewhere are being warned that those operating scam rings are once again phoning people pretending to be from Amazon.

The caller is not from Amazon. But the Amazon imposters are using a new twist to convince consumers that their bank accounts are in danger and they need to talk to their bank and later to a so-called U.S. Marshal. 

An Amazon warehouse worker holding a package

What you need to do is hang up. No one bought an iPhone using your Amazon account. No one is trying to launder money through your bank accounts. 

Amazon has even warned lately that scammers may try to use calls, texts, and emails to impersonate Amazon customer service. 

Amazon — and the U.S. Marshals —  never need you to buy them gift cards. 

ContactSusan Tompor via stompor@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter@tompor. To subscribe, please go to freep.com/specialoffer. Read more on business and sign up for our business newsletter.

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