BBB of Utah says online gift exchanges ‘nothing more than a scam’

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SALT LAKE COUNTY – It may be the season of giving, but the Better Business Bureau of Utah warns an online gift exchange is nothing more than a scam.

The Secret Sister Gift Exchange is popping up on Facebook feeds.

Here’s how it works: you send a $10 gift to a ‘secret sister.’ Your name and address will then be added to a list. You’re encouraged to invite six others to join, and, in return, you’ll receive 36 gifts in the mail.

“It just seemed like something fun that I could do with my sisters or all of my girlfriends,” said Moana Feinga.

Feinga had reservations before signing up, but once the gifts started coming in, she was sold.

“I received candles, a gift bag, just fun little things like soap, candles, I even got a gift card for $10," she said.

Jane Driggs, the President of the Better Business Bureau of Utah, says this exchange is a Pyramid Scheme.

“Eventually, the people at the bottom get absolutely nothing," she said.

Driggs also warns that posting personal information on social media makes you vulnerable to identity theft.

“You are giving your name, your address, to someone you may not even know, and you may not know what they're going to do with that information," she said.

The U.S. Postal Service considers chain letters a form of gambling and say it is illegal.

“The enforcement just isn't there for something like this, but if they could track it back to see who actually started it, that person would probably be liable,” Driggs said.

Many people like Feinga don’t realize their good intentions are part of a scheme. She says she’ll be more cautious.

“I can see how easily it can get out of control," she said.

To report a scam, click here.