YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Two scams called the “Secret Sister Gift Exchange” and the “Secret Wine Bottle Exchange” are spreading across Facebook and users are not getting what they expected – far from it.
The exchanges are actually a pyramid scheme and are illegal, according to the Better Business Bureau.
“While gift exchanges grow in popularity during the holiday season, BBB advises consumers to use caution when choosing one in which to participate,” the organization said in a statement. “According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s gambling and pyramid scheme laws, gift chains like this are illegal and participants could be subject to penalties for mail fraud.”
The “exchanges” ask a social media user to post a status, tagging dozens of friends, asking a minimum of 6 people to participate. The participants are instructed to buy one bottle of wine or gift, valued at $15 or more, and send it to one secret wine lover or secret sister. In return, participants are promised they will receive from 6 to 36 bottles of wine or gifts.
Participants usually end up empty-handed.
Gift chains such as these are illegal and should be reported to the Better Business Bureau.