'Tis the season. Have you gotten an invitation from someone on Facebook to be a part of a Secret Sister Gift Exchange? Before you partake, you should know these exchanges are illegal.

This is what many people are receiving in their inbox:

With all the negativity around us, let's create some positivity over the next few weeks leading up to the holidays! Anyone interested in a holiday gift exchange? It doesn't matter where you live, you are welcome to join. I need at least 6 (or more!!) ladies of any age to participate in a secret sister gift exchange. You only have to buy ONE gift valued at $10 or more and send it to ONE secret sister. Afterward, you will receive between 6 and 36 gifts in return!! It all depends on how many ladies join. Let me know if you are interested and I will send you the information!
Comment below if you're interested and I'll send you the details!
My friend did this last year and received so many gifts!!

It sounds harmless. Basically, you send out one $10 gift and get up to 36 of them back. Unfortunately, this is a well-hidden pyramid scheme.

Here's where they get you. When you sign up to participate, you're given a list of two names and addresses. You are told to send your gift to the person in the #1 slot and remove their name from the list. You then move the #2 person up to the #1 spot, and add your name and address to the #2 spot, then send it off to six new participants.

The problem is, eventually you will run out of participants, which means unless you sign up early, you're likely to not get anything in return.

Oh, there's another issue. The Secret Sister Gift Exchange is technically a chain letter, and chain letters are illegal.

From the U.S. Postal Inspection Service:

[Chain letters are] 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 ... violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute.

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