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'Grinch bots' scoop up hot holiday toys: Here's what to do about it

Greedy grinches have set up software to buy hot holiday toys in bulk, then resell them to parents at sky-high prices. Here are tips on what to do.
/ Source: TODAY

Can't find that hot holiday toy your kids are begging for? Blame the grinch bots.

Get Jeff Rossen's new book, “Rossen to the Rescue,” here.

You know those cyber scalpers who buy up thousands of tickets at once using special computer programs? Well now, they're buying up the most popular toys in bulk ... then reselling them for double, triple, even quadruple the price.

"Toy terrorists are holding these hot toys hostage, and i don't think parents should pay the ransom," consumer expert Edgar Dworsky told TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen.

The Rossen Reports team searched for three of the hottest toys of this holiday season: Fingerlings, the L.O.L. Surprise Big Surprise, and the Super Nintendo NES Classic Edition. They had little luck in retail stores, but online it was a different story.

The retail price for Fingerlings is $14.99, but online the Rossen team found them selling at prices from $34.99 to almost $45. Retail price for the L.O.L. Surprise Big Surprise is $79.99; online the Rossen team found it for nearly double that. The Super Nintendo, which has a retail price of $79.99, could be found on eBay for $199.

If you're shopping online, experts say here's how to avoid rip offs and counterfeits:

Try to find a legitimate seller: Look for someone with a reputation of 99 percent. See if they use the name brand or if they don't.

On Amazon: Figure out whether you are really buying the toy directly from Amazon, or from a marketplace 3rd party seller. Look for the words "shipped from and sold by" so you know you're getting a legitimate product.

The Rossen team got extras of all three toys. For a chance to get one, tweet using the hashtag #RossenReportsContest and say why you want these toys for your kids and what it'll mean to them. Please specify which toy you want, and we might just surprise a few lucky viewers!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open only to legal U.S. residents of the 48 contiguous US or DC who are 18 or older as of December 12, 2017. Commencing on December 12, 2017 at 8:20 A.M. Eastern Time (“ET”) and continuing through December 12, 2017 at 1:00 P.M. ET (“Sweepstakes Period”), the TODAY Show and NBCUniversal Media, LLC (collectively, “Sponsor”) will award up to twenty-one (21) toys (either a Fingerling, an LOL! Surprise Big Surprise, or a Super Nintendo Classic Edition) (“Prize”). Type of Prize awarded will be determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. To enter, tweet why you want a toy for you or your child and what it’ll mean to you or them and include #RossenReportsContest (the “Submissions”). Sponsors will select up to twenty-one (21) winners from among all valid entries received during the Contest Period based on 50% Originality and 50% Creativity. Limit one (1) Prize per household. Prize redeemable through December 12, 2017. Sponsor's decision cannot be appealed. Total Actual Retail Value for each Prize, including shipping and handling, is up to $79.99. The collection and use of personal information collected below will be governed by the Sponsor’s privacy policy, located at By entering the contest, each entrant agrees to indemnify, and release and hold harmless, Sponsor, and its affiliated companies, from any liability that may occur from participation in the contest and/or use of Prize. By entering the contest, entrants also grant Sponsors the non-exclusive, royalty-free, and irrevocable rights to use, reproduce, copy, publish, display, distribute, perform, translate, adapt, modify, and otherwise exploit the Submissions and to incorporate the Submissions in other works in any and all markets and media worldwide in perpetuity. All taxes and other expenses, costs, or fees associated with the acceptance and/or use of Prize are the sole responsibility of Winner. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Twitter. Entrants are providing information to Sponsor and not to Twitter.

To suggest a topic for an upcoming investigation, visit the Rossen Reports Facebook page.