It has become a national issue and we are DEFINITELY feeling it here in Tyler, Longview, Lindale, Texas and all over our ETX area: the baby formula shortage.

I've spoken with quite a few friends who have been personally affected or know someone who has. It's become a rather desperate situation for some. Unfortunately, that means there are scammers out there just waiting for the opportunity to use that desperation as a way to prey on the vulnerable.

Yes, the U.S. FDA has announced new measures they're taking to ease that shortage. But in the meantime, parents are doing their best to find this newly scarce item. Yes, the internet provides some opportunities. However, the same things that make the internet so helpful to us are also the same things that can make it dangerous.

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How exactly have these baby formula scams been working in East Texas?

So here's what often happens:

You'll run across a post on social media. It could be a post or an ad. In some cases, the scammers post in social media group posts as a helpful "neighbor" who has the baby formula to sell you. At that point, you'd reach out to them by sending a direct message where you'll likely receive photos of the formula they're offering as "proof."

If you decide to buy it, they'll ask you to pay them via PayPal or Venmo, but then guess what? Yeah, you never see one can of that formula.

So how can you tell whether or not the offer is from a scam artist? 

Here are some things you may want to look for

Signs of a potential online purchase scam include (sourced from the BBB's website): 

  • Positive reviews on the website that have been copied from honest sites or created by scammers. Be aware, that some review websites claim to be independent but are funded by scammers. Check for more detail.

  • No indication of a brick-and-mortar address or the address shows on a Google map as a parking lot, residence, or unrelated business than what is listed on the website.

  • Misspellings, grammatical errors, or other descriptive language that is inconsistent with the product. 

  • The seller advertises on a social media site and is communicative until the payment is made. Once the payment clears, they are unreachable.

Please remain vigilant when navigating these online offers. It's a sad reality that some people use hard times to prey on us in our most challenging moments. 

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