BBB warns of 'Secret Sister Gift Exchange' - Facebook's favorite - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

BBB warns of 'Secret Sister Gift Exchange' - Facebook's favorite holiday scam

A screenshot of one Secret Santa Gift Exchange on social media. (Source: Twitter screenshot) A screenshot of one Secret Santa Gift Exchange on social media. (Source: Twitter screenshot)
(WIS) -

It seems like harmless social media fun, but for the last several years, the Secret Sister Gift Exchange post has tricked a lot of giving people on Facebook. 

But, a reminder: this is a scam. 

Several Better Business Bureau agencies are warning consumers against this scam, which is identified as an illegal pyramid scheme. 

"The exchange has been circulating on social media sites and claims that participants will receive up to 36 gifts in exchange for sending one gift valued at $10," the BBB says. "Users are encouraged to invite others to participate in the holiday gift exchange, where they will receive information on where to mail gifts."

Here's how the scheme works, per the BBB:

  • If a consumer purchases one gift for a stranger, she will receive as many as 36 gifts in return.
  • This type of gift exchange may seem reasonable enough in theory: six friends invite six more friends, who all send gifts to the participant in spot 1 before that person named is removed.
  • This process repeats itself with the participant in the 2 spot, and so on.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service warns people of chain letters, citing the mathematic impossibility of winning and the legalities of them. 

"Recently, high-tech chain letters have begun surfacing. They may be disseminated over the Internet, or may require the copying and mailing of computer disks rather than paper," US PIS said. "Regardless of what technology is used to advance the scheme, if the mail is used at any step along the way, it is still illegal."

Social media helps expedite the chain letter, meaning the more shares, the more people that are duped. 

Snopes.com says the scam has been reoccurring on the social media platform since 2015. In 2016, the same scam was used as a wine exchange. 

Remember, never give your personal information to anyone through social media. Here are more tips from the BBB: 

  • To avoid this scam, the best thing to do is completely ignore it altogether. Do not give out personal information to anyone.
  • Chain letters via social media and U.S. mail that involve money or valuable items and promise big returns are illegal. If you start a chain letter or send one, you are breaking the law.
  • Chances are you will receive little or no money back on your “investment.” Despite the claims, a chain letter will never make you rich.
  • Some chain letters try to win your confidence by claiming they’re legal and endorsed by the government.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service offers information about chain letters at www.usps.gov/websites/depart/inspect, or call the Postal Inspection Service toll-free at 1-888-877-7644.

Copyright 2017 WIS. All rights reserved. 

  • South Carolina news on WIStv.comNEWSMore>>

  • FBI Director Wray says Russia continues to sow discord in US

    FBI Director Wray says Russia continues to sow discord in US

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 8:09 PM EDT2018-07-19 00:09:49 GMT
    Thursday, July 19 2018 5:32 AM EDT2018-07-19 09:32:24 GMT
    (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File). FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2017, file photo, FBI Director Chris Wray speaks at his installation ceremony at the FBI Building in Washington. Wray is dismissing Russia President Vladimir Putin’s denial of election meddling. ...(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File). FILE - In this Sept. 28, 2017, file photo, FBI Director Chris Wray speaks at his installation ceremony at the FBI Building in Washington. Wray is dismissing Russia President Vladimir Putin’s denial of election meddling. ...
    FBI Director Christopher Wray is dismissing Russia President Vladimir Putin's denial of election meddling.More >>
    FBI Director Christopher Wray is dismissing Russia President Vladimir Putin's denial of election meddling.More >>
  • Zuckerberg: Holocaust deniers won't be banned from Facebook

    Zuckerberg: Holocaust deniers won't be banned from Facebook

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 6:08 PM EDT2018-07-18 22:08:46 GMT
    Thursday, July 19 2018 5:31 AM EDT2018-07-19 09:31:36 GMT
    Mark Zuckerberg says he doesn't believe Holocaust denial content should be banned from Facebook. (Source: CNN)Mark Zuckerberg says he doesn't believe Holocaust denial content should be banned from Facebook. (Source: CNN)

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that while he finds Holocaust denial "deeply offensive," he doesn't believe that such content should be banned from Facebook.

    More >>

    Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that while he finds Holocaust denial "deeply offensive," he doesn't believe that such content should be banned from Facebook.

    More >>
  • Sex abuse victims join hands, accept courage award at ESPYs

    Sex abuse victims join hands, accept courage award at ESPYs

    Wednesday, July 18 2018 11:20 PM EDT2018-07-19 03:20:36 GMT
    Thursday, July 19 2018 5:27 AM EDT2018-07-19 09:27:39 GMT
    (Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision/AP) Former gymnast Sarah Klein, former Michigan State softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez and gymnast Aly Raisman, from left in front, and others who suffered sexual abuse accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.(Photo by Phil McCarten/Invision/AP) Former gymnast Sarah Klein, former Michigan State softball player Tiffany Thomas Lopez and gymnast Aly Raisman, from left in front, and others who suffered sexual abuse accept the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.

    The women who spoke out against the abuse by Larry Nassar stood together Wednesday night in a powerful and solemn closing to the show highlighting the past year's top athletes and moments in sports.

    More >>

    The women who spoke out against the abuse by Larry Nassar stood together Wednesday night in a powerful and solemn closing to the show highlighting the past year's top athletes and moments in sports.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly