I’ve seen these floating around on Facebook last week. It’s been going around for a few years now around the holidays. “The Secret Sister” gift exchange is what it is called and according to the Better Business Bureau, it is a scam.


It does sound fun and is tempting. But, the BBB says it is an illegal pyramid scheme in holiday wrapping.

The way it works is simple. The Secret Sister starts with an invitation by e-mail or social media and it says to play along all you have to do is send one gift worth at least $10 and in exchange, you can get up to 36 gifts delivered to your doorstep. You have to give your name, address, and personal information of a few friends, then it will be added to an existing gift exchange list made up of different people. The next step is for you to invite your friends and family to join in on the gift-exchange.

According to KSDK, the Better Business Bureau says this doesn't always happen. The BBB says to get up to 36 gifts, the pyramid relies on the recruitment of others. If people stop participating, potentially hundreds will not receive a gift.

Some tips provided by the BBB on how to handle these types of ‘games’, is to ignore it, report the social media post, never give your personal information to strangers, and to be wary of false claims.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service also warns that these gift exchanges are considered a form of gambling, which could mean penalties if you participate.

They U.S. Postal Inspection Service, reiterates the BBB suggestion, and says to avoid this pyramid scheme.

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