‘Secret sister’ gift exchange on Facebook likely to leave you empty handed

WATCH: Top Christmas scams, according to the Better Business Bureau<

A holiday scam is spreading on Facebook and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning users not to fall for it.

The “secret sister” gift exchange acts like a chain letter, telling participants they will receive up to 36 gifts in exchange for sending a $10 gift, the BBB said.

READ MORE: Shoppers, think twice before you click an invoice like this during the holiday season

It asks participants to tag six of their closest friends, and post their home address in the comments.

Sometimes the message varies, but the gist is that you mail one item, repost the message and are promised to receive holiday gifts in return.

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It seems harmless, but the BBB said it’s just another pyramid scheme — which is illegal in Canada.

“You have to purchase a gift for someone as an entry point. You only win when you reach the top so all of the other people are sending the gifts to you,” said Peter Moorhouse with Better Business Bureau’s Atlantic chapter.

“And pyramids always collapse,” he said. “I am sure people have got gifts, but the likelihood is slim.”


Moorhouse compared the gift exchange with winning the lottery — the chances are, you will lose. In most cases, participants do not get gifts in return but end up losing money.

READ MORE: RCMP warns Canadians of fraudulent ‘traffic infringement’ email scam

Fact-checking website confirms the gift exchange is a hoax that has been circulating since October 2015.

Another red flag is the gift exchange asks you to disclose all your personal information.

“Putting any personal information on Facebook is always a risk,” Moorhouse said.

WATCH: Scams surge over the holiday season

Scams surge over the holiday season
Scams surge over the holiday season

If you do see the gift exchange on social media, the BBB recommends you ignore it. “Anything that seems too good to be true probably is,” he said.

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In December 2016, a similar gift exchange scam circulated social media but instead involved wine. The post asked participants to send one bottle of $15 wine in order to receive up to 36 bottles in return.

SOUND OFF: Have you been scammed by a “secret sister” gift exchange? Tell us your story.

Note: We may use your response in this or other stories. While we may contact you to follow up we won’t publish your contact info.

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