NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – As the baby formula shortage continues, families are forced to search online. Their desperation could be a target for scammers seeking to take advantage of a nationwide shortage.

The Federal Trade Commission says scammers may set up fake websites or profiles with pictures and logos of well-known formula brands to make it seem like the real product.

To avoid scams, officials recommend:

  • Checking the grammar of posts. Scammers will often make grammar mistakes and misspell words.
  • Ordering from legitimate vendors and being skeptical of pop-up sites or individuals selling off personal stock.
  • Finding a safe, public location to meet if you are buying formula from someone local. Many local police departments have a meet-up spot outside the station for online buying and selling.

Last weekend, Rachel Wrightington from Southington collected donations and organized a formula drop and swap. It was a safe way for parents to exchange formula or pick up two cans for free. Wrightington says she checked expiration dates and made sure to set aside recalled formula.

“I had moms getting back in their car crying because they found what they were looking for,” she said.

Wrightington is one of the many moms who have been searching high and low for baby formula as grocery store shelves remain bare.

“It was scary that I didn’t think I could find formula and I couldn’t breastfeed like I wanted to in the beginning,” she said. “I called probably every big chain store in Southington trying to find my son’s formula and that was impossible. I actually borrowed a can from somebody and then gave her back one when I got my Amazon order in.”

That transaction inspired her to start a Facebook group to help other moms find formulas. The group, called “Find My Formula CT,” started out small but quickly grew. Currently, more than 6,000 members contribute.

“We all want to feed our babies. That’s the end result.”

While many have good intentions, Wrightington says she has to look out for people looking to take advantage of desperate parents.

“I try to post like scams and fraud advice. I’ve had people add me in their group chats so I can see the actual conversation going on and they’ll message me asking if I think it’s suspicious or something.”

If you suspect someone is selling tampered or stolen formula, you can report it to the Attorney General’s Office.