It’s always nice to get a gift or two, but what about 36?
That’s what a gift exchange on Facebook is promising.
“I think because this scheme is primarily on social media it makes it seem like it’s bigger than it is,” said Jessica Tharp, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau.
It’s called the Secret Sisters Gift Exchange.
Here’s how it works.
You get an invite to become part of a gift exchange and you’re asked to send a gift of a certain value.
The message looks something like this.
Ladies who would be interested in a holiday gift exchange?
Everyone is welcome to join.
You only have to buy one gift at $10 or more and send to your secret sister.
You will then get anywhere from six to 36 gifts in return.
Tharp adds, “I think people like the idea of being part of an exclusive gift exchange, but the reality is the return is not what it’s purported to be.”
This so-called gift exchange is actually a pyramid scheme.
It involves funneling money, or in this case gifts, from the top to the bottom.
So if you got in the scheme early you may actually get a gift.
Even if the invite comes from a friend, you don’t know who else is participating.
The U.S. Postal Inspector says this type of scheme is illegal.
“This type of scheme tends to resemble gambling and this means you could end up breaking the law. Anytime someone is requesting money or items or value or gifts, that promises a substantial return to the participant falls under those guidelines,” said Tharp.
This scheme has been going on since 2015.
With it spreading through social media the popularity doesn’t seem to be dying down.
You may think, it’s just my name and mailing address, but it could lead to much more.
Tharp said, “With the amount of information that’s on the internet today they can likely find you on facebook, get to know you…it might lead to one of those malware scams. It’s certainly not something to take lightly.”
If you’re interested in a gift exchange, not all hope is lost.
The BBB says you can participate in a gift exchange, but it’s best to keep it to a small group of friends you actually know.