Do you remember those old chain letters in the past that made you send them to three people or else you were “destined” to have bad luck for 5 years? What about those that arrived in your inbox and promised you riches with a creepy message telling you to forward it to 10 people or else you’d have bad luck when it came to money?
Well, take those two, combine them, and then delete them. Yup, a new holiday fraud is going around Facebook called “The Secret Sister” gift exchange, that will basically take all of your information and share it with the world. The scam mainly targets women, asking them to buy one $10 dollar gift and send it to their “secret sister”.
The post reads,
“The Secret Sister gift exchange is back! I’m looking for six women who would be interested in a pre-holiday gift exchange. You only have to buy one $10 gift and send it to your secret sister. You will then received 6-36 gifts in return. Let me know if you’re interested and I will send you the information for your secret sister. We all could use some happy mail!”
Don’t worry, your reality check is here because I am here to tell you that this is a big, fat, stupid, scam. Yes, although it sounds harmless and somewhat fun, unfortunately, this IS a scam. Basically, the chain is a pyramid scheme, since the first people to join the gift exchange may receive gifts back, but as later people respond, they fewer gifts they get. Only the person who started the pyramid scheme really benefits…since well, they get all the gifts.
According to the United States Postal Service, the gift exchange isn’t just a scam, but it is actually illegal! How? The exchange is classified as a chain letter which is considered a form of gambling. Gambling and pyramid scheme laws combined to make gift chains like these are illegal, and participants can be subject to penalties for mail fraud.
How to tell if it’s a scam or not? Well, I know it sounds pretty good, I mean, for only $10 you get 36 gifts, right? But NO people, if it sounds too good to be true, especially on Facebook, then it most probably is. These scam exchanges usually all follow the same pattern.
A Facebook user will post a status, and tag several friends asking for a minimum of 6 users to participate. Those who wish to participate will then be instructed to get a gift valued $15 or less and send it to another user. And there it is, the user already has your money, your gift, and your address. Game over?
Tis the ‘season for the holiday….scams?