Community Living | Coupon | E-News Signup | Archives | Lincolnton & Lincoln County -ALERTS! -
Have a HOT TIP? Call 704-276-6587 Or E-mail us At [email protected]
Advanced Search
Lincoln Herald | Lincolnton, NC


home : state news : e-state news January 31, 2023

12/19/2022 1:59:00 PM
BBB Reminds Social Media Gift Exchange Is An Illegal Pyramid Scheme

BBB Southern Piedmont & Western NC
Press Release


A "Secret Santa" around the office, or with friends and family can be fun. A gift exchange among online friends you haven’t met, well, that’s a little different and carries a heftier consequence. These gift exchanges, while they look like innocent fun, are really pyramid schemes – and are considered illegal.

The “Secret Sister” gift exchange campaign quickly became popular several years ago through Facebook posts promising participants would receive up to 36 gifts, in exchange for sending one gift. Each holiday season, the scheme pops back up. A newer version of this scam revolves around exchanging bottles of wine; another suggests purchasing $10 gifts online. You might see references to receiving "happy mail" or doing the exchange "for the good of the sisterhood." During the 2022 holiday season, be aware of variations of this theme that may crop up on social media.

How the Scam Works:

The scheme starts with a convincing invitation, either by email or social media to sign up for what seems like a great, fun program. All you must do is provide your name and address and personal information of a few additional friends, and tack this information onto a list that’s already started of people you’ve never met on the internet. Next, it’s your turn to send an email or social media invitation to send a modest gift or bottle of wine to a stranger along with their friends, family and contacts.

A newer twist on the idea asks you to give your etransfer email and asks users to pick a name off of a list and send money to strangers, to "pay it forward."

There was even another new twist called "Secret Santa Dog" where you are asked to buy a $10 gift for a "secret dog."

In all of these versions, you give away your personal information, and you’re left with buying and shipping gifts or money to unknown individuals, in hopes that the favor is reciprocated by receiving the promised number of gifts in return. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen. Just like any other pyramid scheme, it relies on the recruitment of individuals to keep the scam afloat. Once people stop participating in the gift exchange, the gift supply stops as well and leaves hundreds of disappointed people without their promised gifts or cash.

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. There is another layer of danger to participating in these schemes. When signing up, the alleged campaign organizer is asking for personal information such as a mailing address or an email. With just a few pieces of information, cyber thieves could expose you to future scams or commit identity theft.

The next time someone promises a bounty of gifts or cash by mail, email, or social media, BBB recommends the following:

  • Ignore it! Keep in mind that pyramid schemes are international. Chain letters involving money or valuable items that promise big returns are illegal. Stop and ask, is it worth breaking the law? Report it instead 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.


1 - Alps Mtn - Taking Care Of

Have Us E-mail You The Latest News
Click Here

LincolnHerald.net

Your #1 Local Source for News, Sports, Opinion, Obituaries, Religion, Classifieds, Events, Photos, Community, Coupons, and more!

Serving Lincoln, Catawba, Gaston and Cleveland counties including the areas of Lincolnton, Denver, Maiden, Stanley, Alexis, Vale, Crouse, Iron Station, High Shoals and Cherryville.

Not a newspaper, not a magazine, we’re online – on your computer at home or work, on your smartphone… with news and more 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year including holidays.

To Make Sure You Always
Get The Latest Updates,
If You Haven’t Already:

Like Our Facebook Page and
Click On SEE FIRST at
LincolnHerald.net

Also Follow Us On Twitter 
@LincolnHerald20




1 - Court Street Grill 550




Article Comment Submission Form
Please feel free to submit your comments.

Article comments are not posted immediately to the Web site. Each submission must be approved by the Web site editor, who may edit content for appropriateness. There may be a delay of 24-48 hours for any submission while the web site editor reviews and approves it.

Note: All information on this form is required. Your telephone number is for our use only, and will not be attached to your comment.
Submit an Article Comment
First Name:
Required
Last Name:
Required
Telephone:
Required
Email:
Required
Comment:
Required
Passcode:
Required
Anti-SPAM Passcode Click here to see a new mix of characters.
This is an anti-SPAM device. It is not case sensitive.
   









HomeNewsState NewsReligionOpinionSportsObituariesExtrasCommunityClassifiedsSubmitLife

Terms and Use | Lincolnton & Lincoln County -ALERTS! -
Site Design and Content
Copyright Lincoln Herald, LLC 2011-2023

 


Software © 1998-2023 1up! Software, All Rights Reserved