When you think of automatic bots, it may be that the first thing that springs to mind is the annoyance of getting up early and waiting in anticipation for concert tickets to go on sale for your favorite band -- only to have them all slurped up within seconds.
It's a well-known practice. Set up a bot to purchase a coveted item or service and then sell them on the market with a steep mark-up. Generate profit, move on to the next in-demand product.
Reselling online is big business, and when individuals lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some turned to bot operations to make ends meet.
Others simply work this business to make a profit on hot ticket items. One group, for example, claimed to have secured 3,500 PlayStation 5 consoles in the Europe and UK, contributing to an almost immediate sell-out of the next-generation gaming system.
An issue surrounding the supply of PS5s is a global shortage of chips, made worse by the pandemic and natural disasters. Graphics cards, for example, are in high demand not only by tech vendors but also gamers and cryptocurrency miners -- and in response to this demand, scalper bots have made their presence known.
On Tuesday, bot mitigation platform Netacea published its Top Five Scalper Bots Quarterly Index, a tracking report that identifies the hottest products most often targeted by scalper bots.
Covering April to June this year, the company says that the most popular item were the $110 Air Jordan Retro 1 High OG sneakers, which once scalped and resold, have gone for up to seven times -- or more -- their original price tag.
The second most coveted item was the PS5. One bot observed by Netacea made "one million purchase attempts" in only six hours.
In third place were graphics cards suitable for gaming purposes. The most popular product scalpers tried to secure was the NVIDIA RTX 3000 series.
In fourth was another fashion item, Yeezy Boost 700 MNVN sneakers, and in fifth, chips made a comeback -- graphics cards marketed for cryptocurrency mining purposes.
"It's an especially difficult time for retailers," commented Andy Still, chief technology officer at Netacea. "In addition to supply chain issues adding to the challenges of the last two years, they increasingly face the risk of bots buying their most popular items before their customers -- a trend that negatively impacts prices and a brand's reputation."
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