Scammers have 'sunk to new lows' by targeting desperate parents looking for baby formula with official-looking fake websites, feds warn

Similac baby formula is displayed on the shelves at Shaker's IGA in Olmsted Falls, Ohio.
Similac baby formula on the shelves at Shaker's IGA in Olmsted Falls, Ohio.Mark Duncan/AP
  • Scammers are targeting desperate parents looking for baby formula for their kids, the FTC warned.

  • The FTC said scammers have set up fake websites selling high-priced formulas that never arrive.

  • The US has faced a baby-formula shortage for months after major brands had a recall in February.

Scammers are targeting desperate moms looking for baby formula using official-looking fake websites, the Federal Trade Commission warned.

"Scammers exploiting the high demand for baby formula have sunk to new lows," the FTC said in a statement. "They're popping up online and tricking desperate parents and caregivers into paying steep prices for formula that never arrives."

The FTC said scammers are setting up fake websites and social-media platforms using images and logos of common baby-formula brands. These trick parents looking for baby formula amid the shortage into thinking they're buying official products from company websites.

To avoid scams, the FTC recommended searching for the brand online with words such as "scam" or "complaint" before buying to see if others had fallen into a trap.

The agency also said to buy with a credit card. If it is a scam, credit cards offer the most protection for you to get your money back, the FTC said. If a website asks for payment by gift card, money transfer, or cryptocurrency, those are sure signs that it's a scam.

Amid the shortage, the FTC recommended looking for formula locally, such as from a pediatrician, versus buying online.

The US has been facing a widespread shortage of baby formula for months after major formula brands faced recalls from reports of bacterial infections after babies used their products.

President Joe Biden invoked the Defense Protection Act on Wednesday in order to ramp up baby-formula production in the country. The government will require suppliers to send ingredients to baby-formula manufacturers ahead of any other customers, a statement announcing the move said.

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