CHICAGO (CBS) — Some people are using their time at home to devise scams to capitalize on new American trends during these stay-at-home months, and one of the targets is home grocery delivery services.
Adobe analytics shows a 100% jump in online grocery shopping since the COVID-19 lockdown. It’s big money in a big new business drawing the eyes of scammers who see big opportunity.
Those delivering the food are paid by the hour. Typically the bigger the order, the more time it takes and the more money they make.
Adding tips can make that more lucrative.
“You can make anywhere from $10 an hour to upwards of $35,” said Instacart shopper Kristin Mellon of Hanover Park.
Mellon started noticing about a week ago that big ticket orders started disappearing.
“From what I understand, there is a computer bot that snatches up the high dollar orders as they come through the Instacart app, and before us shoppers can grab them the bots are snatching them up.”
She believes bots run by scammers take lucrative orders for themselves or sell access to them on a secondary market.
Known as “Doctor Fraud” at Governor’s State University, Professor William Kresse says Zoom bombinb and Instacart tipping scams are the tip of the COVID-19 scammer cycle. It’s a cycle costing Mellon and thousands like her.
“My bills aren’t getting paid, and theres no end in sight? No,” she said.
In a statement to CBS 2 Instacart wrote:
“Selling or purchasing batches or delivery windows is not an authorized use of the Instacart platform, and anyone found to be doing so will be deactivated.”
“They leave the $7 to $10 orders for us, and they’re grabbing the big ones,” Mellon said. “There are people bragging on Facebook groups they’re making $3,500 a week.”
Then there is the issue of safety and background checks. If the people delivering your food are not sanctioned and backgrounded by Instacart, it raises a concern about who it is exactly coming to your door.
And scammers are not just targeting Instacart. Others are at risk, too. Industry insiders say Door Dash and Amazon and Uber have seen scammers “line jump” to get premier assignments.
Instacart says this is not a hack or a breach but reminds all users of the service to not provide personal login information to unauthorized third parties.