FBI Portland
Beth Anne Steele
(503) 460-8099
September 22, 2020

Oregon FBI Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense Against Gaming System Sales Frauds

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week: building a digital defense against online shopping frauds.

We are six months in to the pandemic now, and one thing is clear: life has changed dramatically. Many kids are going to school in their kitchens, we know we must wear a mask to walk into a grocery store, and finding toilet paper is still something to be celebrated.

One thing that hasn't changed: fraudsters will take advantage of any situation to empty your wallet. One particular crime that we are seeing on the rise in Oregon involves scams related to the purchase of gaming systems.

Whether you are trying to find one for your kids or yourself, it is obvious that people are desperate to escape the real world with a journey into the virtual world. Since the pandemic hit, though, finding a Switch or a PlayStation or any other popular gaming system has been difficult.

That has people looking online for any deal they can find. Unfortunately, buying a gaming system through an online platform can leave you empty-handed.

In just a couple of weeks, we've had more than 20 Oregonians tell us they ordered and paid for a system only to find out they had been scammed. In at least one case, the buyer eventually ended up receiving a box...but there was no system inside. When he complained to the online platform, the buyer tried to make him pay to send the bogus item back to China.

Here’s how to protect yourself:

  • Do your research on the seller. Avoid any seller with bad reviews or no reviews. You can also do an online search for the seller’s name with the words “scam” or “fraud.”
  • Stick to reputable online platforms with protection policies in place. Know your rights if something goes wrong.
  • Make your payment through the online platform’s secure service. Do not take the transaction outside that system.
  • If the price is low, the risk is high. You often get what you pay for.

If you have been victimized by a charity fraud scam or any other online scam, be sure to file a report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your local FBI office.