Nothing tugs at the heartstrings more than hearing about a baby or child who may not be able to eat. And unfortunately, scammers know this and appear to be weaponizing it in the worst way possible.
On TikTok, a handful of folks are warning others to be on the lookout after being approached by women at Target stores who claimed they were strapped for cash and needed help purchasing one essential thing for their little ones: baby formula.
While it’s unclear if these people all live in the same area or if this scam is occurring in Target multiple stores throughout the country, it's scary and something to look out for.
Target customers claim they've been approached by women who need help buying baby formula — but it's actually a scam.
TikTok creator @arianatomlinson2323 shared multiple videos on the platform regarding a recent experience she and her boyfriend had at Target. While they were shopping there, a woman asked them to buy formula for her so she could feed her kids.
Naturally, they agreed to help her but didn't expect the woman to place other items in the cart. Also, @arianatomlinson2323 and her boyfriend didn't have any kids and weren't familiar with the high costs of baby formula.
As the items were ringing up, the woman offered Ariana her phone number so that she could pay her back.
Ariana agreed and said that she called her right then and there in order to save the phone number, but the woman's phone didn't light up or ring. "That should have been a red flag to me," she said in her videos.
The bill came out to almost $800, and Ariana and her boyfriend were floored, but they didn't want to admit to the woman that they couldn't afford it. They also began having suspicions that the woman was going to return everything they just bought her once they left and pocket that money.
They asked the woman for the receipt — who gave it to them, but not before taking a photo of it. Ariana then went to customer service to explain what happened, despite knowing there was little they could do.
While there, she noticed a woman who looked identical to the woman that she and her boyfriend had just bought formula for. To make things even stranger, that woman had a cart filled with almost the exact same items that Ariana and her boyfriend had bought for the other woman. She appeared to be returning it.
While in the parking lot, they spotted the second woman again in a silver Toyota Sienna and decided to follow her. As they exited the lot, they saw a gold Toyota Sienna leaving from the opposite end. Their gut told them that inside the gold car was the woman who they had bought the formula for.
They began following the gold car — which began speeding and running red lights. Ariana and her boyfriend were determined to catch this woman and did the same. Eventually, the chase came to a stop after the woman voluntarily pulled over on the highway and dropped a bag of Target items out from her car window. Then she drove off.
Sans two minor items, it was everything Ariana and her boyfriend had bought for her.
Fortunately, Target accepted the return and they got almost all their money back.
Another creator @tamifromohio shared a similar story about her how her friend who she was shopping with was also approached at Target by a woman in need of baby formula, who also rang up quite a high bill. In this case, @tamifromohio told the cashier what was going on before her friend paid, to which the cashier claimed that she had told this woman multiple times that she couldn't be asking customers to buy her things.
Naturally, the woman disappeared as this conversation was being had.
According to @tamifromohio, "They take this stuff and they either sell it on Facebook Marketplace or they return it to the store to get the money or credit."
In each scenario, no kids were present and both women loaded up the cart with other items after only saying they needed formula.