The 12 Days of Holiday Fraud – Day 1: Secret Sister Gift Exchange

The winter holidays are upon us. For scammers, if it’s not the merriest time of the year, it’s certainly the most profitable.

While opinions of the greatest holiday traditions are varied, there is one holiday song that would be difficult to find on anyone’s favorite list – The 12 Days of Christmas.

Not only does this song go on forever, but unless you’re really into birds, the gifts aren’t that great – hens, swans, doves, etc. That’s a lot of cleanup!

However, we’re using that song as a framework to be on the watch for scams that leverage the holiday season to target you.

Today, we present Day 1 of Holiday Fraud – “On the first day of the holidays, my scammer targeted me with  . . .”

DAY 1: SECRET SISTER GIFT EXCHANGE

On Facebook you receive the following message: “The Secret Sister Gift Exchange is back! I’m looking for six women interested in a pre-holiday gift exchange. You only have to buy one $10 gift and send it to your secret sister. You will then receive 6-36 gifts in return. Let me know if you’re interested and I will send you the information for your secret sister. We all could use some happy mail!”

This scam began popping up on social media in 2015 and is a pyramid scheme in which participants are told by sending one gift, they will receive up to 36 gifts!  In reality, after sending a gift, they often receive nothing.

Per the Better Business Bureau, “It should be noted that pyramid schemes are illegal in the U.S. and Canada. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service 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.”

What Should You Do If You Receive This Type of Message?

  • Ignore it
  • Report it. On Facebook, you can report posts such as these by clicking “Report Post” in the upper right-hand corner.
  • Do not give out personal information – this opens you up to identity theft and other scams.

Holiday reading: BBB Scam Alert: Social media gift exchange is an illegal pyramid scheme

Stay tuned for 12 Days of Holiday Fraud – Day 2.

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