‘Secret Sister’: Better Business Bureau warns about return of online gift exchange scam


(WTEN) — ‘Tis the season for giving—and for scamming! The Better Business Bureau is warning people about the return of a popular online gift exchange called “Secret Sister.”

The “Secret Sister” gift exchange campaign quickly became popular in 2015 through Facebook posts promising participants would receive up to 36 gifts, in exchange for sending one gift.

While they look like innocent fun, the BBB warns they are really pyramid schemes – and are considered illegal.

“A lot of people are like what a great way to celebrate the holidays and to give and to pay it forward, but what it actually is according to the law is a pyramid scheme and it’s technically illegal because you’re using the U.S. mail to keep building up the pyramid,” says Melanie McGovern, communications director for BBB of Upstate New York.

There is another layer of danger to participating in these schemes. When signing up, the alleged campaign organizer is asking for personal information such as a mailing address or an email. With just a few pieces of information, cyber thieves could expose you to future scams or commit identity theft.

What should you do? The BBB recommends the following:

NEWS10 ABC reached out to Facebook for comment, they did not get back to us for our deadline.

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