Live 5 Scambusters: BBB calls ‘Secret Sister Gift Exchange’ an illegal pyramid scheme

VIDEO: Live 5 Scambusters: BBB calls ‘Secret Sister Gift Exchange’ an illegal pyramid scheme

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Secret Santa questionnaires are already popping up around the office while another gift exchange is spreading on social media.

The Better Business Bureau has put out a warning about the Secret Sister Gift Exchange, calling it a scam and a pyramid scheme.

“If you want to do a Secret Santa with your friends from the office or with your family, that’s great, but doing that Secret Sister exchange with strangers is no fun,” Chris Hadley with the South Carolina Better Business Bureau said.

The scam circulates through viral posts on Facebook or other social media platforms. The post instructs you to buy one $10 gift and you’re promised anywhere from six to 36 gifts in return.

When you sign up, you add your name and address to a list of participants. You’re willingly giving private information to total strangers.

“When you spend $10 thinking you may get a gift, giving out your personal and sensitive information you may end up spending a lot more than $10,” Hadley said.

The Better Business Bureau says the Secret Sister Gift Exchange is an illegal pyramid scheme offering false promises. Like any pyramid scheme, it falls apart when people stop joining.

“You may be one of the fortunate ones who get a gift but in all likelihood you are not going to get a gift,” Hadley said. “You’re going to be providing sensitive information to strangers who could use that information to open accounts in your name. You’re also doing a serious disservice to your friends and family.”

The BBB advises everyone to avoid these posts, report them to social media platforms, and never give out personal information to strangers.

If you have a scam story to share, email Kyle Jordan at

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