‘Secret Sister Gift Exchange’ scam returns to Facebook timelines

Better Business Bureau warns of illegal pyramid scheme disguised as gift exchange

ROANOKE, Va. – You may have already seen it in your email or Facebook timeline, but the “Secret Sister Gift Exchange” scam is back.

This year is unique because gift exchanges and Secret Santa groups are online now instead of in-person and this scam can easily be mistaken for the real thing.

This is what the posts look like.

This is an example of an invite to join the Secret Sister Gift Exchange, a pyramid scheme illegal in the U.S. (Copyright 2020 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.)

The status welcomes you to join the Secret Sister Gift Exchange where you buy a $10 or more gift and receive 6-36 gifts in return.

Julie Wheeler at Better Business Bureau of Western Virginia said that this is actually not a gift exchange, but a pyramid scheme, which is illegal.

“All these types of scams have the piece of it where they’re trying to get you to send something to a stranger who is going to benefit from it, but they’re also asking you for personal information and providing personal information on yourself, as well as your friends is just setting everybody up for identity theft,” said Wheeler.

According to Wheeler, the Secret Sister Gift Exchange scam has been around since 2015 and returns every year during the holidays. She said it’s simple for people to fall victim because friends they trust are sharing the posts which gives the illusion that there is no scam.


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