Gift exchanges are common on Facebook and other social media platforms as a way of connecting and brightening up people’s lives. The idea is that a group of people buy each other small gifts and these gift exchanges are most common in the run-up to Thanksgiving and Christmas.
But, scammers create their own fake Gift Exchanges and ones that target women are generally known as “Secret Sister”.
The scam works by getting people to post the Secret Sister on Facebook and this can be done innocently by women not realising they are part of a scam or can be done directly by scammers using stolen identities.
The proposition is something like ‘Ask your friends to get involved. You send out one gift to the name at the top of the list and in return you will get between 6 and 36 return gifts anonymously”.
You can see this is a simple pyramid scheme.
The person at the top gets free gifts from those below then those below have to recruit more members who will send them gifts and so on.
As is usual with these schemes, a small number win more than they put in and everyone else loses.
It’s a simple proposition that has been used by criminals for hundreds of years in various forms.
The offer is that you join and send one gift to a person at the top of some list then delete that name and add your name at the bottom of the list, then recruit 6 more people to also go on the list.
When your name reaches the top of the list you will be inundated with gifts, in theory!
However, it is very obvious that for each winner there must be a lot of people who get nothing as adding six times as many people to a list constantly means even the entire population of the planet would soon run out. These schemes usually collapse after some dozens of people have won and they typically leave many thousands out of pocket.
There are plenty of legitimate gift exchanges on Facebook and other online communities – ones in which you get tied to particular people who you know, and where you promise to send just one gift to each other – and your time and money is much better spent on those.
If you have any experiences with these scams do let me know, by email.