CHICAGO / NEW YORK (Reuters) – Seven times last month, 26-year-old pastor Benjamin Carmis of Wheaton, Illinois, failed to get his hands on the latest Sony PlayStation 5 video game console of retail websites including Walmart Inc. and Facebook. Market.
But not because another person beat him to buy it.
Instead, Carmis and other shoppers use what is called “Scolper Boat” software, which retailers use to pick up products online and rely on significant mark-ups a few minutes later on eBay and Amazon Marketplace.
The corona virus epidemic that has kept millions of shoppers at home has encouraged such resellers, whose high-tech arbitrator – legal in most countries – is making everyday shoppers sad.
“I may not have been ready yet to get one. Every time I failed,” Carmis said.
This year, the bots also targeted epidemic essentials, including P&G’s Charmin toilet paper and Rickit Benckiser’s lysol. In the UK, bots even snatched groceries from the elderly.
The epidemic has expanded bot-powered resale to new product types, and retailers are trying new tricks as many have expanded their resale appeal in the wake of job losses, consultants and cyber security experts said.
Some stores have promised to expedite cyber security measures. Others are only available to certain customers who have installed or delivered products.
“Given bot scripts are constantly being rewritten and rewritten, we are creating, deploying and constantly updating our own bot-detection tools, which allows most bots to be successfully blocked,” a Walmart spokesman told Reuters.
He added, “The online volume is already high this year due to COVID, and the release of the next gen consoles is generating traffic volume and patterns never seen before.”
He said the company’s website crashed when some customers tried to buy one of the new consoles. Walmart said its site still stays online, despite heavy traffic.
‘Not for resale’
About a decade ago scalpel bots first gained prominence in the concert ticket and limited edition sneaker markets, with resellers cutting the front of the online queue.
Although U.S. law prohibits the ticketing of scallops under the Federal Better Online Ticket Sales (BOTS) Act of 2016, retailers have no such protections.
“It’s kind of harmful, but is it illegal? No,” said Edward Roberts, an application security expert at cybersecurity firm Imperva.
Nike Inc., the main target of resellers, has come up with creative ways to combat bots, offering members who have installed its SNKRS application the opportunity to book shoes that can be picked up at the Nike store.
In 2018, Nike branded a pair of red Air Jordan 1 sneakers with the words “NOT FOR RESALE”. They are now going close to $ 1,000 on the StockEx in the online resale market.
“This is a big problem, but at the same time retailers are now finding ways to combat bots with better firewalls, and consumers are becoming more involved in things like raffles in the store,” said Nike’s former clothing buyer Jay Somerville.
At Walmart, a company spokesman said the new video game consoles came from “significantly more” traffic bots. On November 25, the world’s largest retailer blocked more than 20 million bot attempts within the first 30 minutes of the PS5 sale event.
The company also conducts post-sales audits, canceling orders placed by bots and making those products available to regular consumers.
Target Corp and GameStop Corp have high-tech bot security software on their websites and have refused to provide further details.
But as such bot usage expands across regions and product categories, their coders are one step ahead of corporate security executives.
Most scalper bots will reload webpages every few milliseconds to get an edge in adding products to their shopping carts. Some are trying to disguise themselves as hundreds of different customers from different places.
Sometimes, resellers temporarily take over a retailer’s website, divert security plans, and let cracks clear cracks, said Thomas Platt, eBay’s head of boat protection.
Resale bots can go up to $ 5,000 each in online markets or through integrated rings on social media sites. Scholar bots have become increasingly popular, with phrases such as “Nike Bot” or “PS5 Bot” easily found on online search engines. People can buy them limited time access for limited 10 to $ 20.
“There’s significant money involved, and the PS5 is a great example,” Flat said. Nadesia, for example, has identified a console resale ring, which grossed about $ 1 million to $ 1.5 million in the last two weeks of November.
UK-based CrepChiefNotify, a subscription service that teaches members how to use bots and warns of the availability of hot items, says its customers have purchased about 6,000 new PS5s and Xboxes.
The company says it has doubled its membership to 4,000 since the outbreak began. It claims to have averaged around பிரி 400 (34,534.40) per game console when its customers resell.
“These are businesses … people are paying off mortgages by doing this,” Roberts of Imperva said. “They have a goal, which is financially motivating, so they’re not going to leave.”
Richa Naidu in Chicago and Melissa Forres report in New York; Editing by Kenneth Lee, Vanessa O’Connell and Jerry Doyle