There has been a Secret Santa Gift Exchange — sometimes called the Secret Sister Gift Exchange — going around Facebook for couple of years. Have you seen it?
Anyone interested in participating in a Secret santa Gift Exchange? I don’t care where you live you are welcome to join in. I need 6 (or more) people of any age to participate in a secret sister gift exchange. You will only buy 1 gift that is valued at $10 or more, and send to one secret santa and you will receive 6-36 gifts in return!! Let me know if you are interested and I will send you the information. Please don’t ask to participate if you are not willing to spend the $10.
I really want to do this! I need at least 6 people!
I’ll admit. I have fallen prey to it, before I knew it was — you know — illegal.
That’s right. It’s actually illegal. Why you ask? The Better Business Bureau says that these online gift exchanges are known as a Pyramid Schemes, which are illegal in the U.S. and Canada.
It’s a form of gambling, which is subject to fines and lawsuits for mail fraud — GASP!
It seems simple enough. You get forwarded a name with the Gift Exchange message. You just buy one $10 gift, and send it to the person at the top of the list. Then you send out this list to 6-10 of your friends, asking them to join in the fun.
You shift the names on the list up one — deleting the one you bought the gift for — and the “game” continues.
It sounds fun, right? I mean, you are going to get a ton of Secret Santa gifts in the mail. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, the problem is that MOST people don’t follow through with the game. You end up buying someone a $10 gift, but you get nothing in return.
“This CAN’T” be so, you think. I can tell you from experience. I have done this three times. I bought my $10 gift, sent it, and have never received ANYTHING in return. Again, this is BEFORE I heard it was illegal.
The Better Business Bureau suggests doing a few things if you receive the Secret Santa message from someone.
Ignore it! Keep in mind that pyramid schemes are international. Chain letters involving money or valuable items and promise big returns are illegal. Stop and ask, is it worth breaking the law? Report it instead to Canadian agencies or to the U.S. Postal inspection Services.
Report social media posts. If you receive an invitation to join a pyramid scheme on social media, report it. You can report these Facebook posts by clicking in the upper righthand corner and selecting “Report post” or “report photo.”
Never give your personal information to strangers. This will open you up to identity theft and other scams.
Be wary of false claims. Some pyramid schemes try to win your confidence by claiming they’re legal and endorsed by the government. These imposter schemes are false as the government will never endorse illegal activity. No matter what they claim, pyramid schemes will not make you rich. You will receive little to no money back on your “investment” or gift exchange.Better Business Bureau
Bottom line — just nicely ignore the invite. You don’t have to get all grumpy and call the person out who sent it to you. They are most likely just a friend who was trying to spread a little Christmas Cheer.
You can politely send your friend a private message letting them know the problem with Secret Santa exchanges on Facebook. Nobody likes to be called out publicly. You can forward them the BBB site, if you want. It explains everything they need to know.
Spend your time getting gifts for those you already know and love! Check out this Heated Car Blanket for that constantly cold person in your life.