BBB of West Michigan Warns of Gift Sharing Scams
It's that time of year again, and so here comes the warning, the "Secret Sisters" gift exchange is a pyramid scheme and you shouldn't do it.
Ok, if you're just doing it with people you know, it's less of a possible scheme, BUT most people join in through email or a social media post saying they need 6 ladies to join by sending one gift to a "secret sister" and then you'll receive anywhere from 6 to 36 gifts in return.
Two problems with these ideas according to the Better Business Bureau and U.S. Postal Sevice: a) Not everyone will get all the gifts promised. The top tiers of people will, but unless you're actively recruiting people and keeping the pyramid building, then chances are you won't. b) you give out your mailing address or email address to be a part of this (usually on a social post) and now hackers and scammers have even more info to try to steal your identity - AND you didn't get 36 gifts before your bank account was drained.
Oh, my bad, there's actually one more problem as pointed out on the BBB website:
It should be noted that pyramid schemes are illegal in the US and Canada. The U.S. Postal Inspection Services explains that these gift exchanges are considered a form of gambling and that participants could be subject to penalties such as jail time, fines or a lawsuit for mail fraud.
Here's what the BBB recommends you do it you're asked to participate:
Ignore it! Keep in mind that pyramid schemes are international. Chain letters involving money or valuable items and promise big returns are illegal. Stop and ask, is it worth breaking the law? Report it instead to Canadian agencies or to the U.S. Postal inspection Services.
Report social media posts. If you receive an invitation to join a pyramid scheme on social media, report it. You can report these Facebook posts by clicking in the upper righthand corner and selecting “Report post” or “report photo.”
Never give your personal information to strangers. This will open you up to identity theft and other scams.
Be wary of false claims. Some pyramid schemes try to win your confidence by claiming they’re legal and endorsed by the government. These imposter schemes are false as the government will never endorse illegal activity. No matter what they claim, pyramid schemes will not make you rich. You will receive little to no money back on your “investment” or gift exchange.