‘Secret Sister’ Gift Exchange Scam is Actually Illegal
Let's face it, this year has been a total bust. Now heading into the holiday season we are all looking for little reprieve from the craziness and something to lift our moods, but beware.
By now you have probably received the invite or at least caught a glimpse of it circulating on Facebook. We're taking about the 'Secret Sister Gift Exchange'. I myself have had at least 6 invites so far. It goes something like this....
Hi Ladies,Let’s start the holiday season off right!!Back by popular demand....The secret sister gift exchange!The secret sister exchange is all about creating some positivity over the next few weeks leading up to the most wonderful time of the year.The gift exchange is super easy! It doesn't matter where you live, all are welcome to join in the fun! (Who doesn’t love getting gifts in the mail?!)You only have to buy ONE gift valued at $10 or more and send it to ONE secret sister. (Hello Amazon ). Afterwards, you will receive 6-36 gifts in return! It all depends on how many ladies join.So who’s in? Let me know and I will PM you the details. Don’t wait too long or you’ll miss out!! (It wouldn’t let me tag anymore people so if I didn’t tag you I’m sorry)This is super easy & fun!! Happy Holidays!
Again this year, the Better Business Bureau wants to warn you...it's a scam. And it's illegal. Although it may sound like a fun way to spread holiday cheer, gift chains like 'Secret Sister' are basically pyramid schemes. The U.S. Postal Inspection Services says that gift exchanges are illegal gambling and that participants could be subject to penalties for mail fraud.
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According to the BBB, The “Secret Sister” gift exchange campaign quickly became popular in 2015 through Facebook posts promising participants would receive up to 36 gifts, in exchange for sending one gift. Each holiday season the scheme pops back up. A newer version of this scam revolves around exchanging bottles of wine; another suggests purchasing $10 gifts online.
What to do if you get the request to support your "sisters" during this crazy holiday season?
Simple...ignore it. Never give your personal information to strangers. Keep it on the safe side this holiday season and stick to doing personal gift exchanges with friends with porch drop offs and deliveries and give a hard decline to those social media invites.
If you are concerned about online scams you can visit BBB Scam Tips and become an advocate by reporting scams to BBB Scam Tracker.