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Dangers of the “Secret Sister” gift exchange

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EAU CLAIRE (WQOW) - This holiday season you may have seen or been tagged in Facebook posts saying that participating in the Secret Sister gift exchange will be really fun. Unfortunately it's not fun, it's an illegal pyramid scheme.

How it works is that you sign up and give money or items to the gift exchange program. In return, you are supposed to receive more gifts. You also have to encourage your friends and family to sign up and give as well, but the people participating don't end up receiving anything.

This scam has been happening around Christmas time for years. It's considered a pyramid scheme because it relies on participants to sign others up, and in the United States, it is illegal.

Better Business Bureau regional director Tiffany Schultz said when it comes to gift exchange programs, only participate if you know the people involved.

"Don't give your personal information to strangers," she said. "If you're not affiliated with the group of friends that are participating in some type of legal gift exchange, don't provide your personal information because it could be compromised to scam you down the road as well."

Schultz said part of why it keeps happening is that people don't report it when they see it. If you come across it on social media, you can report them to Facebook or to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

Dani Smith

News Producer

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