FILE - Shelves typically stocked with baby formula sit mostly empty at a store in San Antonio, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. A massive baby formula recall, combined with COVID-related supply chain problems, is getting most of the blame for the shortage that’s causing distress for many parents across the U.S. But the nation’s formula supply has long been vulnerable to this type of crisis, experts say, due to decades-old rules and policies that have allowed a handful of companies to corner nearly the entire U.S. market. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

FILE - Shelves typically stocked with baby formula sit mostly empty at a store in San Antonio, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. A massive baby formula recall, combined with COVID-related supply chain problems, is getting most of the blame for the shortage that’s causing distress for many parents across the U.S. But the nation’s formula supply has long been vulnerable to this type of crisis, experts say, due to decades-old rules and policies that have allowed a handful of companies to corner nearly the entire U.S. market. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Scammers taking advantage of baby formula shortages, Better Business Bureau warns

Buyers should be wary of online ads from private sellers saying they have formula available

The shortage of baby formula in the U.S. is having a ripple effect across Canadian markets and the Better Business Bureau is warning parents to be wary of online shopping scams.

After an Abbott Nutrition facility in the U.S. shut down due to bacterial contamination earlier this year, widespread formula shortages led to panic buying. Health Canada has issued an interim policy that allows formula manufacturers in Europe to ship their products to Canada.

However, several hypoallergenic formulas remain in short supply, leading parents to search for formula wherever they can get it.

This creates an opportunity for scammers. In a news release, the Better Business Bureau said scams often begin with online ads and posts in social media groups indicating the seller has formula available.

When buyers contact the sellers via online messengers, the seller sends photos of their available products. The seller then asks the buyer to send payment via PayPal or other peer-to-peer payment platforms, but the formula never arrives.

The Better Business Bureau is warning parents not to buy from sellers who don’t have a listed business address, postings that may have misspellings, grammatical errors, or other descriptive language that is inconsistent with the product, and any advertisements posted to social media.

According to the Bureau’s 2021 Scam Tracker Risk Report, one third of all reported scams in Canada were online shopping scams.

READ MORE: West Kelowna mom wrestles with baby formula shortage

READ MORE: Infant formula crisis another symptom of North American ‘managed trade,’ experts say

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