Secret Christmas Gift Exchange
Here Is How the Secret Gift Exchange Scam Works
(with video below) It is December, so you will probably see a big Facebook or Instagram campaign promoting a secret gift exchange soon. If it comes on your feed, you will see that it involves the receiving of 6 to 36 gifts from other registered participants. It sounds cool, right? In the spirit of Christmas, what can be better? Let's look.
This is one of the most common Christmas scams this year. How does the it work?
Watch the video below to see the Secret Gift Exchange scam exposed:
Here is hos it works, once you see the promotion of the 'event'. The content of the campaign, which encourages the Facebook members to share the news, states:
"Are you interested in a Holiday gift exchange? I don't care where you live – you are welcome to join. I need at least six ladies (or gentlemen) of any age to participate in a secret gift exchange. 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 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.
TIS the season! And it's getting closer. Comment if you're in. I know we can all use a little pick me up. So what better way to brighten your day than a surprise gift."
The post looks like this:
The Facebook member who tagged you is obviously a friend of yours who you trust, so you are inclined to join. If you do, you are required to tag six of your own friends in a personal post, which is how your friend did it to you. But that's not all.
As you're getting the taste of this sweet official-looking campaign and get in line, you are also asked to provide all your personal information – including but not limited to: Social Security Number ("to prove you are the real person who signed up") and address ("for the participant to know where to send your gifts to"). It makes sense, right? Wrong.
Not only this is a pyramid scheme, but it leads to identity theft, which is why was created in the first place. Don't believe it? According to the National Postal Inspection Service's gambling and pyramid scheme laws, gift chains like this are illegal, and participant could be subject to penalties for mail fraud.
Secret Exchange Gift Scam: How To Avoid
Just skip it. Never share all your personal information online. Christmas is a giving season, but not a personal information giving type. Ignore the campaign and go ahead with your day, focusing on the real gift buying for the next few days. Happy holidays!
Secret Exchange Gift Scam: How To Report
Let your family and friends know about the Secret Gift Exchange Scam by sharing this article on social media here. You can also officially report the scammers to Facebook or the Federal Trade Commission using the links below:
How To Protect Yourself More
If you want to be the first to find out the most notorious scams every week, feel free to subscribe to the Scam Detector newsletter here. You'll receive periodical emails and we promise not to spam. Last but not least, use the Comments section below to expose other scammers.