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Scalper bots target sneakers and gaming, inflating already lofty prices

Sneakers, popular gaming consoles, and GPUs are in high demand. However, some of it is likely artificial, fueled by waves of automated purchasing scripts or scalper bots.

Scalping comes in where there's a mismatch between supply and demand. Take, for example, a music concert or a release of a new gaming console, anything a reseller can get a hefty margin with.

Scalper bots allow their owners to automate pre-ordering, completing the process in a fraction of the time it would take a human to complete the purchase.

Netacea, a server-side sot management company, released a report today detailing the products which were targeted the most by scalpers recently.

The most targeted item in the second quarter of 2021 was the Air Jordan Retro High OG sneaker. According to the report, the price of sneakers increased by a staggering 670%, from $110 to $848 in the reseller market.

The authors of the report claim that the sneakers fall under the 'hype' category. A limited supply of sneakers and anticipation in social media created a perfect target for scalpers to focus on.

Netacea lists PlayStation 5 as the second most targeted item in the list. The report claims that during the now infamous console release, scalpers employed 300 compromised machines and made one million purchase attempts over six hours or over 46 every second.

GPU Unsplash
GPU's are frequently targeted by scalper bots. Image by Unsplash.com.

According to the report, an opportunity to earn a hefty sum on reselling the PS5 brought more people to the scalping game in 2021. Because of that, the PS5 restock price is double its retail value from $399 to $800.

Gaming graphic cards rank third on the list, with an aftermarket price increase of 68%. Authors of the report claim that scalpers were keenly aware of the highly anticipated release of NVIDIA's RTX 3000 GPU, inflating the retail price from $499 to $840.

The fourth item most craved by scalpers is the s Yeezy Boost 700 MNVN sneakers by rapper Kanye West. The aftermarket price of $650 is 261% higher than the item's retail value, making it a worthy target for the legions of scalper bots.

According to the report, when Adidas dropped West's sneakers this August, scalper bots quickly absorbed the supply, leaving human consumers empty-handed.

The last item scalper bots took the most interest in are also graphic cards. This time, it's the ones people use to mine cryptocurrencies. The report indicates that powerful GPUs are sold for 80% in the aftermarket, pushing the price to $1,800 from an original price of $1,000.

According to the report, scalpers don't focus solely on GPUs but target any device with a powerful NVIDIA GPU only to sell the item at almost double the original price.

Authors of the report claim that while people spend more time gaming due to the global lockdown, the pandemic created economic uncertainty, allowing scalpers to recruit more people in need of quick cash.

Both factors resulted in high demand for gaming consoles and GPUs, which made using scalping bots profitable.

The sneaker craze is attributed to the merchandise being a 'hype' item with a highly active community in social media. Coupled with limited availability, both sneakers in the list proved a lucrative deal for scalpers with automated scripts.

“It’s an especially difficult time for retailers. 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,” Andy Still, CTO at Netacea, explained.

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