The holiday spirit has started to spread and most likely, so has this scam on your social media.
The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of the “social media gift exchange” scam, also known as “secret sister gift exchange,” that works like a pyramid scheme or chain mail.
A friend may post a message on Facebook or Instagram inviting you to join a gift exchange. The note encourages you to mail a gift worth $10 to a stranger at the top of the list. It may promise you a pile of presents in return from other participants. The idea is that you send money or a gift to the person at the top of the list, cross them off, add your name to the bottom and send the list to more friends. The scheme relies on constantly recruiting more participants. The U.S. Postal Service considers this illegal gambling. Some social media sites specifically prohibit users from engaging in such schemes.
Experts encourage potential victims to follow these tips:
- Avoid promotions that ask you to send cash or a gift to play along
- Don’t repost the chain letter If you don’t recognize the link destination, don’t click.
- Stay cautious. The person posting may have had their account hacked or computer compromised by malware.
- Report the scam to Facebook, Instagram and any other social media.