Your children are begging Santa for a hard-to-get Droid, drone, Minion, or Meccanoid this season and you aim to please. But your cyber shopping spree is likely to leave you empty handed and headed to the mall in frustration. Even though more and more people do their holiday shopping online, the hot toys seem to be harder and harder to get. Why, after only two weeks on the market, is it so easy to find the Galaxy Gear VR on eBay when it's sold out on Amazon and BestBuy.com? What's going on?
It's called scalping. And it's not just for tickets any more. Cyber Grinches scalp Santa with an automated arsenal of software programs that snap up new toy releases faster than any parent's frantic fingers can click "buy." Once they have the goods, it's a simple matter of auctioning them off for an easy profit. Bots beat humans because they can work far faster than a typist on a keyboard. They are remarkably difficult to detect and even more difficult to stop.