“Secret Sister Gift Exchange” Is A Facebook Scam—And Illegal

Stopping ScamsAn old chain letter scam is making the rounds again on Facebook called the “secret sister gift exchange” program. This pyramid scheme promises participants that if they buy one gift for $10 and send it anonymously to a friend they will get 36 gifts in return. Sounds too good to be true, right? Of course, that’s because it is. And according to the U.S. government, it’s also illegal.

Here is an example post:

“Ok friends!! Are you interested in a Holiday Gift exchange? I don’t care where you live – you are welcomed to join. I need 6 (or more) ladies of any age to participate in a secret sister gift exchange. You only have to buy ONE gift valued at $10 or more and send it to one secret sister and you will receive 6-36 in return!…..”

“There’s at least one problem with chain letters. They’re illegal if they request money or other items of value and promise a substantial return to the participants,” according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. “Chain letters are a form of gambling, and sending them through the mail (or delivering them in person or by computer, but mailing money to participate violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute.”

The problem with these kinds of scams is how quickly they can spread on Facebook. Where once chain mail scams were physically mailed from inbox to inbox, now they are blasted across social media simultaneously to thousands of people. Just know that if you see any sort of viral deal like this one on Facebook, it’s almost definitely exactly what it looks like: a con to get your hard-earned cash.