Scam warning: don’t fall for “secret sister gift exchange”

Nov 12, 2018, 3:43 PM | Updated: Aug 3, 2022, 2:50 pm
secret sister scam...
Secret sister gift exchanges, which make the rounds every year around this time, are really pyramid schemes.

SALT LAKE CITY — A habitual scam called “secret sister gift exchange” is making its annual rounds on Facebook, just in time for the holiday season.

Secret Sister Gift Exchange

The “secret sister gift exchange” circulates through Facebook posts and claims that a person can get up to 36 gifts from other people if they agree to buy a single gift worth $10.

The scam always reappears yearly in time for the holidays.

What is it?

The exchange is essentially a pyramid scheme. The first people that join the gift exchange might receive gifts back, but the later people respond means fewer gifts or no gifts at all. Most likely the person who started the pyramid scheme will be the one who benefits.

These chain letters are a scam

A chain letter is considered as a form of gambling and can be illegal if they request money or other items in promise for some kind of return.

The U.S. Postal Service says chain letters “don’t work because the promise that all participants in a chain letter will be winners is mathematically impossible.”

“Do not be fooled… the primary purpose of the scam is to take your money,” said the U.S. Postal Service.

It reappears yearly

The current incarnation of the “secret sister gift exchange” started circulating through Facebook posts around October 2015. By agreeing to the exchange, experts say you are setting yourself up for identity theft. But variations on that theme have been making the rounds for years, even before social media helped them spread.

The scam asks people to provide an address, phone number and other personal information that could be useful to criminals.

Authorities are asking social media users not to share the scam or agree to the exchange in hopes the scam will cease to exist in the future.

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Scam warning: don’t fall for “secret sister gift exchange”