How 'Grinch bots' are stealing holiday gifts from online shoppers

Online shoppers have a new enemy this holiday season: Grinch bots, the automated computer programs designed to purchase large amounts of hot ticket items and resell them for a profit.
Online shoppers have a new enemy this holiday season: Grinch bots, the automated computer programs designed to purchase large amounts of hot ticket items and resell them for a profit. Photo credit Getty Images
By , KCBS Radio

Online shoppers have a new enemy this holiday season: Grinch bots, the automated computer programs designed to purchase large amounts of hot ticket items and resell them for a profit.

"These bots are so much faster than you and I are," Ian Sherr, Editor at Large for CNET told KGO-TV. "And so if you've had this experience, if you're after something that's very popular and you've seen it in stock, you may have tried- you've gotten that into your cart, and then suddenly, it's snatched away from you at the last minute. That is all these bots working."

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Through high-tech programming, the bots are able to purchase hundreds of items in a split second transaction. It’s unfair and it’s frustrating, Sherr expressed to the station.

However, an avid shopper of rare, high priced items told the station a useful tip for out-smarting the Grinch bots. Turn on push notifications for social media accounts known to announce item availability, he said. One-click purchasing is also a helpful tool.

These practices may not be illegal, but their detrimental impact on the economy has caught Congress' eye. Lawmakers introduced the Stopping Grinch Bots Act on Monday.

Perhaps by the next holiday season the Grinch bots will no longer be able to steal Christmas.

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