Iowans need to beware of a holiday gift exchange called “Secret Sisters” that’s popping up on Facebook and other social media sites.
Jeff Niebaum, with the Better Business Bureau in Omaha/Council Bluffs, says it sounds like a great way to get a sleigh full of gifts in the season ahead for a modest investment, but don’t be tempted.
“It’s a post that claims participants will receive up to 36 gifts in exchange for sending just one gift, valued at $10,” Niebaum says. “The users are encouraged to invite others to participate.” It translates to an illegal pyramid scheme, he says, and if you get the email, just delete it. Do not send them your information and don’t send a gift — as you won’t get one back, let alone 36 gifts.
“Those who have reached out to us at the Better Business Bureau have told us they’re kind of unsure of what’s going on,” Niebaum says. “They participated, they sent their information and they sent a gift but they never received anything.” If you get a message from a friend asking you to take part in this exchange, let them know it’s a scam and not to share your data with the crooks.
“They’ll ask for the person you’re sending it to, their information, and your information,” Niebaum says. “Once you give them that, they’ll have your mailing information, your name, and they’ll contact you in the future with other scams.”
Niebaum says this hoax may be considered illegal gambling and could result in participants facing some sort of charge.