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BBB: Looking for this season's hot toy? Beware of scams

Hot holiday toy sells out fast and becomes expensive and hard to find. Here's what you need to know.
A child holds up a toy they received as a holiday gift.

Every year, there are always a few "must-have" toys on most kids' holiday wish lists.

The hot toy sells out fast and becomes expensive and hard to find.

In 2023, the hot toy lists, such as this round-up from CNET or this article from, include Furby, Barbie Dreamhouse, Fingerlings, Bitzee, Lego, Elmo Slide, Dog-E, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mayhem Pizza Fire Delivery Van, and Beast Lab.

If you are shopping for a child this holiday season, don’t let scammers trick you into accidentally buying a fake (or non-existent) version of a popular toy. Watch out for these tricks.

How the scam works

You are looking for this season’s hot toy, but it’s sold out at every store you visit. You decide to do a quick online search or spot an ad in your social media feed. This takes you to a website that miraculously has the toy in stock. The site may look professional and have original images of the product. It may even offer the product at discounted prices, claiming a "last-minute deal" or "flash sale."

Unfortunately, many such offers are fake. In many cases reported to BBB Scam Tracker, buyers thought they were ordering a high-quality toy. Instead, they received a cheap counterfeit version. In other cases, the products never shipped and the websites vanished. In either case, when the dissatisfied customers tried to follow up with the company, they found that the staff either didn't respond or refused to provide a refund. 

For example, one shopper told BBB Scam Tracker that they ordered a discounted Lego set online.

"I waited a day or so and got back with the company on my order and was told this this is their busy season and will take longer to ship." 

The shopper waited but never received a shipping confirmation. When they reached out again, the company offered to refund their order, but the shopper never got their money back. 

Another shopper found what they thought was a great deal on a Barbie doll, but all they received was a credit card charge from a seemingly unrelated company.

The shopper "clicked a link on Facebook (don't remember the website) that noted that Mattel was offering collectable Ken & Barbie movie dolls for $. They charged the card over $5. Charge was from [an unrelated company listed as] Quality Electronic Premium."

Tips to avoid toy scams

Only buy toys from reputable stores and websites

  • The best way to avoid getting scammed when purchasing toys is to buy them directly from a seller you know and trust.

Don’t be fooled by extra-low prices

  • Unreasonably low prices are a red flag for a scam on many products. Avoid making a purchase from a retailer you aren’t familiar with just because the price sounds too good to be true – it probably is!

Research before you buy

  • If a company seems legitimate but you aren’t familiar with it, be extra careful with your personal information. Before offering up your name, address, and credit card information, make sure the company has a working customer service number.