Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably spotted one or two or seven of your Facebook friends sharing posts about a certain holiday gift exchange.
%shareLinks-quote="But social media users should beware because this game has ho-ho-hoax written all over it. " type="spreadWord"%
The "Secret Sister gift exchange" has flooded social media in the past week. The premise claims that you send in one gift worth $10 dollars to a stranger and receive as many as 36 gifts in return.
One post reads:
Anyone interest in a secret sister gift exchange? It doesn't matter where you live! You only have to buy ONE gift valued at $10 or more and sent it to one secret sister! You will [receive] 6-36 in return. Let me know if you're interested and I will send you the information.
(Please don't ask to participate if you are not willing to spend the $10)
As the game picked up speed on social media, more people began posting photos of their alleged gifts from strangers.
A post shared by bri 👽 (@thatisbridiculous) on Nov 7, 2015 at 4:49pm PST
However, Buzzfeed reports that the "Secret Sister gift exchange" is just an updated version of an age old scam that has been around for years.
The trend was first reported back in October by website Snopes, which sniffs out and alerts consumers to scams. Snopes claims that the exchange is "simply a repackaging of age-old chain letter gifting schemes.""But while a handful of individuals claimed to have received a single gift, none reported an avalanche of $10 trinkets arriving at their doors," the website writes.
Not only is the gift exchange a scam, but according to the United States Postal Inspection Service, it is also illegal.
%shareLinks-quote="There's at least one problem with chain letters. They're illegal if they request money or other items of value and promise a substantial return to the participants." type="quote" author="United States Postal Inspection Service" authordesc="" isquoteoftheday="false"%
Even if you do participate in the gift exchange and receive one or two gifts in return, Snopes says it is "mathematically impossible" for anyone to get 36 presents.
The USPI has even shared its own post on Facebook, warning users against the scam:
The Secret's Out! Beware of the "Secret Sister" Gift Exchange Scam!
We hate rain on your parade, but it is also worth mentioning that there probably isn't a Nigerian prince waiting to wire you his millions of dollars of inheritance, as well.
But if you really are enamored with the idea of a gift exchange with strangers, Snopes suggests using Reddit's Secret Santa service, where fellow Redditors (legally) send each other one gift over the holiday season.
There is also always the option to go way old-school and just exchange gifts with your friends and family.
Here's how scammers get you on Facebook:
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