It’s the holiday season, which means most of us are spending time shopping for presents online. Unfortunately, that boom in online sales has also spurred an increase in online scams. The “Secret Sister” scam first popped up around this time last year, and is once again making it’s way onto your social media feeds.
The scam is disguised as a seemingly innocent holiday gift exchange. The person will ask you to buy a $10 gift card, then add your name to a list that will give you 36 free gifts sent to your mailbox. You’ll be asked to invite some of your friends, who will also end up sending in gift cards with no gift sent in return. It’s just a modern day chain letter.
Unfortunately, those who don’t realize that the exchange is a scam end up committing mail fraud.
“Recently, high-tech chain letters have begun surfacing,” the United States Postal Inspection Service tells ABC News. “They may be disseminated over the Internet, or may require the copying and mailing of computer disks rather than paper. Regardless of what technology is used to advance the scheme, if the mail is used at any step along the way, it is still illegal.”
So the next time you see an online gift exchange, use caution. It could end up costing you.