WFLA Web Staff and WCMH – UPDATE | The “Secret Sister Scam” has hit Facebook again this year, police are warning.
ORIGINAL STORY | Police departments are again warning the public about the “Secret Sister” gift exchange scam. The scam is making the rounds on Facebook.
The scam begins with a Facebook post asking you to buy a gift of $10 or more. You’re asked to add your name to a list. In exchange, the scam promises, you’ll receive 36 gifts.
University of South Florida mass communications instructor Kelli Burns knows all about the secret sister gift exchange. “I’ve seen it on Facebook. A couple of my friends are participating,” Burns said last year.
“This is a typical pyramid scheme. We’re just seeing this on Facebook this time instead of the old way of using letters, and Facebook allows it to spread a lot faster,” she added.
The biggest problem with the post is it’s illegal. United States Post Office regulations are very clear about pyramid schemes, and these gifts are being sent through the mail.
It’s also problematic because your personal information is posted on Facebook. “It’s against Facebook’s terms of agreement. So there’s the potential that Facebook, if they got wind of this, could block your account,” Burns said.