A festive scam is going viral on Facebook at the moment, designed to trick people into sending strangers gifts in the lead up to Christmas. Warning: Do not take part in the Secret Sister Gift Exchange.
Whilst some scams are obvious, others don’t seem like scams at all – and those are the ones that often leave you out of pocket.
A pyramid scheme is currently spreading around Facebook that in theory would work, causing many social media users to sign up to the popular scam.
Here’s the Secret Sister Gift scam explained.
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What is the Secret Sister Gift scam on Facebook?
The Secret Sister Gift Exchange has been flooding Facebook and Twitter over the past few days, encouraging women to sign up to a secret Santa style present swap with strangers.
However, it’s actually a viral scam posing as a nice gift-giving event, and we urge social media users not to take part.
The Secret Sister Gift Exchange sees scammers trying to gather a group of six or more people who would like to take part in a gift exchange. Then, they are asked to buy a small gift costing around $10 and told to post it to another participant. They are then promised 36 gifts in return.
It started in the USA, however the scam has now started spreading around Facebook groups in the UK too.
It’s actually a Pyramid Scheme
Here’s how the Pyramid Scheme works:
- If you respond to a post, you are invited into a list of participants.
- You send your $10 gift to the person who is in first place on the list.
- Once you have sent your gift, you remove the person in first place on the list and replace it with the person who was in second place.
- Then, you add your own name into second place and send the list to six other people.
- As more people get on the list, the idea is that every person gets up to 36 gifts.
- However, as more people join the lists, the number of participants increases too quickly, and people end up sending out their gift without getting anything in return.
Whilst the scheme appears to be a bit of festive fun, you’ll actually most likely end up out of pocket, so it’s best to avoid this one.
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Do not take part in this illegal scam
In many countries around the world including the UK, pyramid schemes are illegal, and as stated by Monzo: “People who are involved in them, create, run or promote them can be prosecuted under government legislation called the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.”
Pyramid schemes are also prohibited in Facebook’s Community Standards.
Under the Fraud and Deception section, Facebook says: “In an effort to prevent and disrupt harmful or fraudulent activity, we remove content aimed at deliberately deceiving people to gain an unfair advantage or deprive another of money, property or legal right.”
It then clearly states that users should not post any “forms of deception aimed at depriving people of money” such as “Ponzi schemes or pyramid schemes”.
If you see people sharing the Secret Sister Gift Exchange on Facebook do not take part, and report the post immediately.