ST. LOUIS — If you're trying to convince an elderly loved one to stay home during the pandemic, it may be up to you to provide them with supplies they need.
If you can't find supplies like toilet paper or hand sanitizer, you may get a little desperate. That desperation can make you a perfect target for scammers.
"People are out stockpiling stuff. That's when it occurred to me, 'Oh my gosh, maybe I need to as well,'" said Michelle Palmer, a St. Louis woman who admits, she loaded up on toilet paper and supplies in early March.
After learning more about the pandemic, she started worrying about her dad.
"I had just convinced my 83-year-old father not to go out shopping and I told him I'd get some things for him and get them shipped to his house," said Palmer.
It wouldn't be an easy promise to keep.
She kept striking out on sites like Walmart and Amazon, where toilet paper was out of stock.
That's when Palmer fired up Google.
"Some websites came up and I clicked on one. They were selling Angel Soft," said Palmer.
The website she landed on, now defunct, sold an oddball mix of items including bathroom hooks and toilet paper.
So what was it that convinced Palmer it was a legitimate website?
"They had a page that said 'Our story'. It looked real happy and joyous. That's kind of where I bought into it," said Palmer.
Palmer's Angel Soft order would never arrive.
The next day, the website was down.
"The phone number didn't work. I went out on Reddit and people were saying it was a scam," said Palmer.
In these unprecedented times, even toilet paper scams aren't too far of a reach for con men.
"We're seeing lots of fake websites," said Rebecca Phoenix, Investigator with the Better Business Bureau.
There are two internet searches Phoenix said you should do before pressing 'submit' on any online order.
"You can check a website to see if [the website] is new. That's sometimes a red flag. All you have to do is google, 'how do I tell if a website is new?' And you can also just google the website's name and see what comes up," said Phoenix.
Palmer eventually found toilet paper at Walmart for her dad. She hopes other shoppers don't fall for the same scam.
"I think before I click submit next time on anything, I think I'm going to wait 15 minutes. Don't do it in the peak of being desperate," said Palmer.
Palmer said she was able to get her money back for the purchase because she was using a credit card, and her credit card company was able to dispute the transaction.