Holiday shopping season is here, and this year, Star Wars toys and collectibles might be at the top of many wish lists. But as excitement builds for the next Star Wars movie, watch out: online scammers are in a prime position to take advantage of collectors and gift-givers.
BBB Serving Metropolitan New York is warning consumers about ZoGalaxy, a group of online retailer websites that are luring budget-minded consumers with huge discount offers on Star Wars collectibles, PlayStations, and more. Because it hasn’t responded to customer complaints, or to the BBB’s inquiry about its BBB Code of Advertising violations, ZoGalaxy has an “F” rating on BBB.org.
In short: It’s a trap! These are not the Star Wars deals you are looking for. Consumers reported that they gave their money to ZoGalaxy – and then it went far, far away. Shoppers said they paid for items up front, but never received their toys or their money back.
“Scammers can use popular toy trends to trick holiday shoppers,” says Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO of BBB Serving Metropolitan New York. “Any time you see unusually low prices for hot items on an ecommerce website, be skeptical – it could be a scam.”
BBB received 17 complaints for ZoGalaxy from May to December 2019, one of which is still pending, from ZoGalaxy shoppers who paid up front for too-good-to-be-true deals on products that never arrived. Many of these customers attempted to buy PlayStation 4 consoles listed at $99 (about one-third of MSRP).
This scheme is a moving target, doing “business” online under more than 20 different names and URLs, all registered to untraceable private domains. Many of these sites are live and operational as of the date of this release. Would-be customers find the ZoGalaxy sites via ads on Facebook and other social media platforms - and victims try to purchase attractive items without checking on the seller.
Fear of missing out is the path to the dark side for shoppers on these ZoGalaxy sites. The websites drive a false sense of urgency and scarcity, pressuring shoppers to commit money fast. Products are listed at slashed prices and in limited quantities—with a timer counting down to the end of the “sale.” Alerts pop up almost constantly while shoppers browse the sites, claiming the products are flying off the digital shelves.
Once people pay, they are unable to contact the business: there are no phone numbers, mail bounces from undeliverable physical addresses, and related questionable Gmail accounts do not provide access to help.
To dodge pitfalls with online toy, collectible and game purchases this holiday season, BBB Metro New York recommends taking the following steps:
- Check with BBB.org and read any reviews and complaints posted there about a company.
- Search online for additional consumer feedback on whether a seller seems naughty or nice. Order only from companies with consistently satisfactory customer ratings and reports.
- Be wary if you are tempted to click on a social media ad claiming super low prices for hot-ticket items. If a gift looks too-good-to-be-true, it probably is a scam.
- Check online retailer details such as contact specifics, terms of sale, and refund policies. Avoid websites that do not post adequate contact information, lack clear policies, or publish questionable contact details. For example: watch out for ecommerce sites that use Gmail or other free emails instead of professional addresses. Be cautious if a website posts a location such as “123 Fake St.” – an apparently phony address that currently appears on a ZGALAXYSHOP Contact Us website page – or that lists several different contact addresses in widely different locations.
- Visit BBB’s Scam Tracker to see if other consumers have made a scam report about the business. You can search reports by keyword and location.
View more holiday tips at BBB.org/HolidayTips.