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Fraudsters are taking advantage of a nationwide shortage of baby formulas, tricking consumers into paying high prices through fraudulent online stores, the Federal Trade Commission said Wednesday.
According to a consumer notice, scammers attract “desperate parents and caregivers” through fake websites or social media profiles with images and logos of well-known formula brands. Consumers think they are buying on the company’s official website, but the formula never comes, the FTC said.
“Fraudsters who are in high demand for baby formulas have fallen to new lows,” – said in the department.
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The shortage of infant formula began at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, but has worsened in recent weeks. The deficit is partly due to the closure of the Michigan plant in February; two infants who used the mixture produced there, picked up bacterial infections and died.
On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration agreed with the plant’s owner, Abbott Nutrition, the country’s largest manufacturer of formulas, to help reduce the deficit.
Last week, the White House said it would, among other measures, make it easier to import formulas from abroad.
Here are some ways the FTC recommends avoiding child formula fraud:
- Use a search engine to check a company or product. Use search terms such as “review”, “complaint” or “scam”.
- Only fraudsters will require payment by gift card, money order or cryptocurrency. Credit card payments often provide the greatest protection; sometimes you can get your money back if you ordered something that never arrived.
- Know your rights. Sellers must submit an order online within the time specified in their advertisement (or within 30 days if the advertisement does not allow time). If the seller is unable to ship so far, he must notify you of the revised delivery date with the option to cancel for a full refund or accept a new delivery date.
- Search for local resources. For example, your pediatrician may have a mixture available and can help. Participants in the Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) can contact your local office to find a mixture.