As the holiday season gets underway while we are under COVID restrictions most families are increasingly turning to online shopping sites to get their purchases done. Increasingly consumers are finding themselves competing against Grinch Bots.

These are software robots created with the sole purpose of automating shopping. Since these programs can scout more of the internet and perform tasks faster than humans, it means that they are at an advantage when it comes to finding products and placing orders.

They got the name Grinch Bots from the book “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” where the character called Grinch set out to ruin Christmas by stealing all the presents. These bots act in a similar manner since they place massive orders and thus crowd out genuine consumers from making buys. They then horde the items and place them in secondary markets like eBay at huge markups.

Anyone can create a bot, from individual shoppers to large retailers, but research in 2019 shows that over 90% of retailer site traffic originated from bots run by large criminal enterprises. These criminals not only scoop up all the inventory, but they also engage in installing spyware on these sites, steal credit card information, and even swipe customers’ reward points.

The activities of Grinch Bots have become so serious that Congress introduced a bill in November 2021 known as the Stopping Grinch Bots Act, which aims to stop scalpers from gouging consumers on prices, market manipulation by third-party resellers, artificial shortages by retailers, and helping consumers get affordable gifts. By halting the activities of Cyber scammers, American shoppers are less likely to be victims of these malicious activities.