"Don’t let these schemes play off of your fears!" Beware of online gift scam

MIAMI — It seems innocuous enough -- a gift exchange called “Secret Sister." But that secret is not what it appears to be.

If you've been on Facebook or Instagram you may have noticed a gift exchange offer that reads:

"You only have to buy ONE gift valued at $10 or more and send it to one secret sister and you will receive up to 36 in return!" 


Postal inspectors say the scam is similar to a chain letter or even a pyramid scheme.

Some people may receive gifts. However, for everyone to receive what they've been promised — new recruits must constantly join the group.

It's mathematically impossible to sustain.

If you see something like this online — be skeptical.

"They also play with your emotions.  They tell you, for example, it’s a Secret Sister exchange. It’s a great thing to do with your girlfriends online and you have to keep it secret so that you can benefit off of it and other people don’t.  Don’t let these schemes play off of your fears and your emotions.  Make sure that you do your research first," advised U.S. Postal Inspector Blanca Alvarez.

"Make sure that you do your research first!"

Postal inspectors say the scheme violates federal lottery laws and is also illegal in the many states, including Wisconsin, that have anti-pyramid scheme laws on the books.