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(NEXSTAR/WHNT) — As kids add “must-have” toys to their holiday wish lists, parents should be aware that scammers are using the toys’ popularity to bilk them out of their money.

As you search for this year’s hot picks, such as Star Wars “The Child” Animatronic Edition (aka Baby Yoda) or a realistic toy dog, consider being extra careful about where you buy.

How the Scam Works

As you look for “must-have” toys, you find they are sold out at every store you visit, so you search online. You find a professional-looking site that has the toy in stock. It may have original images of the product and offer the toy at discounted prices, claiming a “last-minute deal” or “flash sale.”

However, many such offers are fake. In many cases that have been reported to, buyers who ordered a high-quality, animatronic toy received a cheap counterfeit version instead. When trying to follow up, the customers found that the staff either didn’t respond or refused to provide a refund. 

One shopper reported her experience after buying what she thought was an animatronic puppy.

“It was supposed to move and act like a real little dog. I wanted to get it for one of my great grand daughters. When I received the dog in the mail it was a small stuffed animal that you could get out of a machine at an arcade,” she said

Another consumer reported paying $59.99 for a Baby Yoda toy that “was supposed to be animated and make sound.”

“When I finally got it, it is an ugly plastic hand puppet,” the customer said, adding that after seeking a refund, they were told they would get only a 10% refund and would have to pay $20 to ship it back.

Tips to Avoid Toy Scams

  • Buy from reputable stores and websites only. Buy directly from a seller you know and trust.
  • Don’t be duped by extra-low prices. Extremely low prices are a red flag. Avoid making a purchase from an unfamiliar retailer because of excessively low prices. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Research before you buy. Be extra careful with your personal information when dealing with an unfamiliar company. Before providing your name, address and credit card information, make sure the company has a working customer service number.

For More Information

For more online shopping tips, see, and for more about avoiding scams this holiday season, consult

If you spot a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker, and report questionable ads to BBB AdTruth.