It seems harmless enough when you see it come up on your Facebook page. It is often titled the “Secret Sister Gift Exchange” and it provides you with a list of six people. You are told to send a gift worth at least ten dollars to the first person on the list, remove that person’s name from the list, move the second person on the list to the first position, add your name to the end of the list and then send the list to six of your friends. In theory, you will receive thirty-six gifts for your small contribution of ten dollars.
So where is the harm?
First of all, it is a blatantly illegal chain letter and violates Title 18 of the United States Code, Section 1302. In addition, like all chain letters, ultimately, it is destined to fail because it is a pyramid scheme where ultimately we run out of people on the planet. It is destined to fail.
In this particular version of the illegal chain letter, you are required to provide personal information that can lead you to become more vulnerable to scams. This scam has been with us for a couple of years and resurfaces during the holidays.
Avoid all chain letters regardless of the guise under which you receive them. They are illegal. In addition, although this particular chain letter is turning up on Facebook pages, it is a violation of your Facebook terms of agreement, so you potentially face the loss of your Facebook account if you participate in the scheme.