BBB: Facebook gift exchanges are pyramid schemes, illegal

In this Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019 photo, a Facebook app is shown on a smartphone in Miami. Facebook reports financial earns on Wednesday, Oct. 30. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
In this Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2019 photo, a Facebook app is shown on a smartphone in Miami. Facebook reports financial earns on Wednesday, Oct. 30. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

DETROIT – If you see something on social media called a “Secret Sister” gift exchange the Better Business Bureau wants you to know that and other gift exchanges like it are illegal.

The BBB said those gift exchanges are pyramid schemes and should be ignored and reported to Facebook. They first got big in 2015, but tend to still circulate on Facebook. A particular post the BBB references told participants they would receive up to 36 gifts in exchange for sending one gift. The U.S. Postal Inspection Services said that gift exchanges are illegal gambling, according to the BBB.

The BBB describes a pyramid scheme like this: A consumer purchases one gift for a stranger and the consumer will get as many as 36 gifts in return. In theory, six friends invite six more friends who send gifts to the participant in the No. 1 spot before that person’s name is removed. The catch is, according to the BBB, that you need to disclose personal information.

The BBB wants anyone who receives a chain letter by mail, email or social media to ignore it -- especially if it involves money or gifts.


About the Author:

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.