LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Shortages in baby formula supply are creating a risk for potential online scams.

The Better Business Bureau of Western Michigan is asking parents to be cautious when looking to buy baby formula online.

“It’s really disgusting when people take advantage of especially vulnerable people in vulnerable times. Mothers are just trying to feed their children,” said Katie Grevious with the BBB.

Additionally, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office is asking anyone who sees price gouging on baby formula to report it to the AG’s Office online here.

“Parents are trying to feed their children, and scammers prey on that vulnerability,” says Lisa Frohnapfel, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau Serving Western Michigan. “Be skeptical of people you don’t know selling formula online, even if they are only asking you to pay for shipping.”

The Better Business Bureau encourages buyers in need of formula to look out for spelling and grammar mistakes, ensure that you are buying from a secure website and to try to use a credit card to buy the formula.

“This is an extremely scary time and right now you’re really vulnerable and that’s what scammers are looking for so make sure you’re taking that step back and taking that deep breath and you’re taking that step back and you’re really doing that extra bit of homework,” said Grevious.

At this point in time, no one in Michigan has reported being a victim of online scams involving baby formula.

How the online scam works 

An ad, post, or social media group posts they have baby formula available.

The buyer contacts the seller, who then shows photos of the cans available.

The buyer then pays through platforms like PayPal or Venmo, but the formula never arrives.  

Signs of a potential online purchase scam can include: 

  • Positive reviews on the website that have been copied from honest sites or created by scammers. Some review websites can be run by scammers.
  • 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 language that is inconsistent with the product. 
  • The seller advertises on a social media site and is communicative until the payment is made.

Additionally, the BBB has a message for those scamming families out of formula:

“If you’re out there, we’re going to find you and we’re going to shut you down,” said Grevious.