Thousands of consumers have been duped by fraudulent websites masquerading as the Little Tikes toy company selling popular children's playhouses, ride-in cars, and more at heavily discounted prices. But when a deal seems too good to be true, it often is.
"My wife clicked on a Facebook ad that a friend had shared for a big sale on Little Tikes stuff," a Reddit user shared in a forum dedicated to unveiling internet scams. "The website looked legit and they were selling fairly expensive items for around 75% off. She showed it to me before she bought anything and I noticed the web address wasn't littletikes.com it was littletokes.com."
While this couple narrowly avoided handing over money to a fraudulent website, many other parents haven't been so lucky. "I just spent $100 on a scam little tikes website thinking I was getting a good deal and now we have to cancel our card," a Twitter user shared. Another woman reached out to ABC News' On Your Side after ordering multiple toys from a fake Little Tikes website she saw linked on Facebook only to actually receive a pair of sunglasses.
Sadly, these parents aren't alone. Reddit, Twitter, and other social media platforms are strewn with comments from consumers who've mistakenly placed orders from fake Little Tikes sites. But the toy manufacturer has made it clear it doesn't have an online store or sell directly to consumers. "We currently do not sell products directly to consumers," Little Tikes has noted on its official website. "If you accessed a website that looks like LittleTikes.com and believe that you purchased a product through Little Tikes, you have been scammed."
The toy manufacturer said that aside from replacement parts, it hasn't sold products directly to consumers since 2018. "When we start selling directly to consumers, you will hear from us via our newsletter and promotions," the company added.
The company cautioned parents and other consumers from purchasing anything through websites promoted through social media networks like Facebook. What's more, Little Tikes has urged anyone who may have ordered from a fake Little Tikes site to immediately report the transaction as fraudulent to their bank or credit card company.
One thing that makes this scam particularly frustrating for consumers is that the name of the fraudulent websites appears to constantly change. Along with littletokes.com, Romper found reports of scams linked to URLs containing "littletikesonlinestore," "stores.littletikesboby," "store.littletikestoys," "littletikes.savemoney.store," and even "LittleTikesuk" a website that appears to have scammed a number of consumers in the United Kingdom.
"Fraudsters tend to be very adept at changing their email addresses, their contact information and setting up new websites very quickly," Federal Trade Commission Attorney for the Southwest Region Matthew Wilshire told CBS News in Dallas Fort Worth when discussing dozens of fraudulent sites — some of which claimed to sell disinfecting wipes and sprays — that were using Little Tikes address and phone number to give their pages a sense of legitimacy.
With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic forcing many families to spend more time at home, it's no surprise that parents are eager to find great deals on toys and activities that can keep their children occupied. Unfortunately, scammers have taken notice. So where can you buy Little Tikes products from without fear of being scammed? The toy manufacturer recommends purchasing only from one of its preferred partners: Target, Walmart, or Amazon.