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9 great reads from CNET this week: Gift cards, Amazon reviews, Oculus Quest 2 and more

We look into why con artists want you to buy them gift cards, how Amazon deals with fake reviews, what parents need to know about VR and their kids, and then some.

They're on everyone's holiday shopping list: gift cards. Swankier than straight cash, gift cards are all about convenience. They're available for a zillion different stores, they're lined up waiting for you right by the checkout and you don't have to worry about fit or fashion or maybe even that hard-to-please relative. They're great for kids, college students, co-workers, in-laws and pretty much everyone else.

Including scammers. They'll come after you with a convincing spiel about how you can buy gift cards to pay fines, fees or taxes or to help out someone in need. The Federal Trade Commission says consumers have lost more than $245 million to gift card scams since 2018, but it's probably much more than that. CNET's Ian Sherr talked to folks who've fallen for these scams and has advice about how to spot the dangers.

His story is among the many in-depth features and thought-provoking commentaries that appeared on CNET this week. Here you go. These are the stories you don't want to miss.  

Gift card scams are growing. Retailers aren't doing much about it

Every year, scammers trick millions of Americans into handing over hundreds of millions of dollars in gift card payments. 

A stack of gift cards, the top one saying "happy holidays"
Sarah Tew/CNET

Amazon's never-ending fake reviews problem, explained 

Those five-star reviews are reassuring. But what if the seller asks you to add one -- for cash?

Robert Rodriguez/CNET

Four reasons not to get an Oculus Quest 2 for kids

And why you might do it anyway. 

Oculus Quest 2
Scott Stein/CNET

How the global chip shortage is boosting US manufacturing

What began as a pandemic problem has led to a $52 billion plan to help chipmakers like Intel and to overhaul the global economy. 

Intel's Fab 42 in Chandler, Arizona
Stephen Shankland/CNET

David Copperfield's new book brings magic history into the present

One of the greatest living magicians talks about the past, present and future of the craft.

David Copperfield inside his private magic museum in Las Vegas
Homer Liwag

Secondhand gifts are poised to ride a holiday shopping wave

It's not cheaping out to give gifts from online auction, thrift and consignment sites, shoppers say.

Gift-wrapped boxes next to a laptop
Getty Images

My favorite multicooker isn't an Instant Pot 

Grab your pitchforks, IP fans. There's a better multicooker out there, and I'm here to prove it. 

Chef IQ Smart Cooker
Molly Price/CNET

How bots help snatch up PS5 consoles with superhuman speed

I took a personal odyssey into the world of bots and monitors. Here is what I learned.

PlayStation 5 and controller
Andrew Hoyle/CNET

You'd better watch out: 'Tis the season for shopping scams

Here's how to avoid being duped by a cyber Grinch. 

Person, wearing a Santa cap, at a laptop with a credit card
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