Want a PS5? A 'scalper bot' may beat you to it

Want one of Sony’s new PlayStations?

Well, you may have to battle a robot to get it.

Retailers say the game consoles are the latest target for so-called ‘scalper bots’.

That’s software used to snap up hot products online, and then relist them moments later at big markups on sites like eBay and Amazon Marketplace.

Experts say the practice may be nefarious, but it’s not illegal.

Walmart says the bots accounted for most of a surge in orders for the new PlayStation 5.

It blocked more than 20 million bot bids within the first 30 minutes of a PS5 sales event.

But it’s not just games consoles being targeted.

Lockdowns have seen bots search out all kinds of consumer staples.

That includes P&G’s Charmin toilet paper and Reckitt Benckiser’s Lysol disinfectant.

Collectable sneakers from Nike and other brands have also long been a target.

And consumers don’t stand much chance against bots that can reload web pages every few milliseconds.

Some even disguise themselves as hundreds of shoppers from different places.

Retailers are stepping up cybersecurity in response.

But the bots are readily available online, and lucrative for their operators.

Security firm Netacea says one group made a million dollars or so reselling PlayStations just in the last two weeks of November.

With such profits to be made, the bots aren’t about to go away.

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