Hundreds of Ottawa residents are scrambling to find new Christmas presents after a massive Hatchimal scam rocked a popular Facebook Group.

Members of the 'From East to West Ottawa Co-Op Facebook Group' found out Friday that the Hatchimals they ordered back in October won't be arriving. The group organizers said the $36,000 they collected from group members was taken by scammers overseas. 

"In mid-December, we were notified that the vendor wanted more money in order to deliver the order. He claimed it was for additional customs fees. At this point, we verified with Canada Customs officials and the Embassy of Thailand, as well as the airport where the Hatchimals were supposed to be held," said one of the page admins who did not want to be identified. 

The popular group, which has about 7,000 members on its closed page, buys items in bulk from largely overseas vendors, offering members deep discounts on a wide variety of products. The admins said they make about 30 purchases a month and have never had a problem since the group was formed 18 months ago.

This vendor, advertising authentic Hatchimals, was found through what the group admins called a  "recognizable website" used for previous shipments. 

"We are extremely upset that our members have been disappointed by the fact that this vendor took advantage of us – especially given the impact that it will have during the holiday season," the admin said. 

While the group maintains they've made hundreds of successful shipments, some members, who wouldn't go on camera, told CTV Ottawa they wished updates had been provided sooner about the state of the shipment and they questioned why money was handed over for additional costs like customs before the shipment reached the border. Viewers also told CTV Ottawa that the group has had problems in the past, specifically with items being seized at the border, significant delays and shipments that were never received. 

Kerry Hogan-Vachon was one of the 450 people who purchased the Hatchimals back in October for $36 a pop, down from their $60 to 90 retail price. She ordered three for her nieces and nephews and said she is now scrambling to find something else to put under the tree. 

"Saving money on a 'wow' gift at Christmas time is great and when you are buying three of them and you are on a budget, it's a deal," she said. 

Hogan-Vachon said she has used the group successfully for a variety of purchases and didn't think twice about ordering the Hatchimals for Christmas.  

"It's a very tough lesson to learn, but I guess I will think about it a bit more next time to make sure that I don't put all my eggs in one basket when I have to buy that next gift." 

"Nobody is getting their gifts and it's turned out really sad for us," she said. "My niece and nephew are not getting it and instead are getting a note from Santa saying he wasn't able to produce them as fast as he thought he could." 

"The sad part is a lot of people bought these for their family and friends with their money, now they are left to pay back all the people they took money from to buy them," said one mother who purchased five for her family but did not want to be identified. "A lot of mothers on the co-op are either low income or living very frugal, some mothers have expressed that they don't have anything to give their children for Christmas because they were banking on these too give to their children."

Members of the Facebook group have volunteered to purchase Christmas gifts for those who cannot afford to buy a replacement gift for their families. 

The Ottawa Police Fraud Unit is investigating. It said the money was sent overseas in Malaysia and added that solving these kinds of cases and recovering the money is often extremely challenging. Police remind consumers to be extra cautious when making purchases online, especially when the items are coming from overseas vendors. 

The organizers of the 'From East to West Ottawa Co-Op" told CTV Ottawa they are working to help give its members some money back.