It’s that time of year again where scammers will do anything they can to get their hands on your hard-earned money this holiday season. This time, they have created a scam that is being spread all over social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. This scam involves a secret sister Christmas gift exchange, where scammers convince their victims to send a gift or money to someone in exchange for gifts sent back to them.
How the Secret Sister Christmas Gift Exchange Scam Works
A scammer posts on their social media page, claiming that their victims can make money or receive gifts from 30+ people. The victim thinks that this is a fun activity to try out, and sends money or gifts to the scammer.
To send money to the scammer, victims usually use mobile payment apps such as Zelle, CashApp, PayPal, or Venmo. They also use methods such as wire transfers or gift cards.
Once the money or gift is sent, the scammers keep the money and gifts to themselves. They have no intention of actually sending it out to all the people who participated. If they do send them out, they will try and keep the gift exchange going to get more valuables, but will never let the victims keep their gifts or money they receive.
The Secret Sister Christmas Gift Exchange is Illegal in the United States
The Secret Sister Christmas gift exchange is considered to be a pyramid scheme, which is illegal in the United States and Canada. According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Services, this is because it is considered a form of gambling, so participants could face jail time, fines, or a lawsuit for committing mail fraud.
By participating in a pyramid scheme, you are entrapping yourself into consistently paying money or putting gifts into the scheme, which is nearly impossible to keep up. Therefore, the money and gifts will run out at some point, leaving you with nothing in return. That is why these schemes are dangerous and illegal.
How to Avoid the Secret Sister Christmas Gift Exchange Scam
- Don’t participate in an online gift exchange during the holiday season.
- Only do gift exchanges with family members or friends you know, instead of random people on social media.
- Don’t give out your personal information to people you don’t know.
- Don’t give out your financial information to people you don’t know.
- Report any online gift exchanges to the FTC or to the social media platform you are using.
Social Catfish is Here to Help You!
At Social Catfish, we want to help you verify the identities of those who might seem suspicious to you. If you have their name, email address, phone number, social media username, or image, you can reverse search and see who the suspected person was that you’ve been in contact with if you think you’ve been a victim of the Secret Sister Christmas gift exchange scam.