Police warn of “Secret Sister” gift exchange going around social media


GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) – ‘Tis the season to watch out for scams and frauds on social media.

The “Secret Sister” gift exchange is making the rounds again this year.

Here’s how it works: someone makes a post on Facebook or another social media site asking you to buy a gift of $10 or more and send it to a “secret sister.” The sender is promised 36 gifts in return for their effort.

But hang on. Our sister station WKRN reports that police say this is simply “too good to be true” and a “modern form of the chain letter scheme.”

Oh, and there’s one more thing. Chain letter schemes are illegal.

Here’s what the United States Postal Inspection Service says about these type of schemes:

“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. Chain letters are a form of gambling, and sending them through the mail (or delivering them in person or by computer, but mailing money to participate) violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute. (Chain letters that ask for items of minor value, like picture postcards or recipes, may be mailed, since such items are not things of value within the meaning of the law.)

Recently, high-tech chain letters have begun surfacing. 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.”

If you see a Secret Sister post in your feed, report it to Facebook. Just click the down arrow in the top right corner of the post and select “Report Post.”