Secret Sister scam returns for the holiday season

Secret Sister scam returns for the holiday season

It feels a little early for the Better Business Bureau to be warning about holiday scams, but then again it is mid-November already.

The BBB has issued a national warning about the Secret Sister Gift Exchange scam that seems to crop up on social media around this time of year. If you’re not familiar with the Secret Sister scam, it’s a scam that’s mostly targeted at women as you can tell by the name. It starts when someone posts on social media asking you to add your name and address to a list where you send in a small $10 gift. In return, you’re promised to receive up to 36 of the gifts. You’re also asked to recruit at least six more people into the gift exchange.

This is how you can tell it’s a pyramid scheme. Anytime you’re asked to recruit more people to advance an exchange like this whether it’s gifts or money, it’s a pyramid scheme. In pyramid schemes, it’s the people at the top of the pyramid who reap the rewards of the scam while those on the bottom of the pyramid often find themselves out of luck.

Add to that, you’re potentially putting yourself at risk for identity theft. While $10 sounds like a small amount to lose, you could lose more by giving out your personal information.

The worst part of social media pyramid schemes like this is that a victim could find themselves on the wrong side of the law. Pyramid schemes are illegal in the United States. Even if you’re unaware you’re being taken advantage of if you’re caught recruiting others into the exchange you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

Some of those organizing these exchanges will say that it’s legal or even that it’s approved by the government. That is false.

If you’re invited to one of these gift exchanges online, just politely decline. However, if it’s someone close to you, you may want to explain to them the perils of the exchange. You could be saving them a lot of trouble.