Officials are warning of a new scam circulating on Facebook that disguises itself as a “secret sister gift exchange.”
The premise behind the gift exchange is that you send a gift to the first “sister” on the list, then add your own name and receive gifts from other “sisters.”
A Facebook post soliciting participants reads, in part, “You only have to buy ONE gift valued at $10 or more and send it to one secret sister, and you will receive 6-36 (depending on who wants to participate) in return!”
ABC 13 asked people if they would be interested in trying the exchange.
“I sure would, it sounds interesting,” Gladys Faison said.
Her husband, Michael Faison, had a different reaction.
“For the amount of money? It would immediately send a bright red flag for me, it really would,” Michael said.
Michael is right to be skeptical, as reports are surfacing that the “gift exchange” is a scam.
An investigation by Snopes.com confirmed the exchange is fake.
North Carolina’s Attorney General’s office told ABC 13 the scam seems like a new version of the chain-letter gifting scheme.
“We have seen similar gifting circles or gifting clubs in the past spread via mail,” Noelle Talley, a spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office, said. "Some of those actually turned out to be pyramid schemes, which are illegal."
Chain letters can also be illegal if they request money or valuable items while promising a substantial return. This is considered to be a form of gambling.
Talley said the scam is concerning not only because of the financial loss, but also because names and addresses could end up in the wrong hands.
“We see that a lot with different types of fraud where once people have fallen for one kind of scam that their name and contact information gets sold to other people and that they get solicitations for other kinds of scams,” Talley said.
Keep an eye out for this scam and other similar schemes, and always question the legitimacy of what you see circulating on social media so you can keep yourself and your identity protected.