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