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BBB warns the public about Secret Sister scam

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MGN Photo of Gifts or Presents

WISCONSIN (WQOW) - You've probably done a "Secret Santa" gift exchange at your office or with your friends, but the Better Business Bureau is warning people about an online gift exchange that's actually a scam.

Tiffany Schultz, regional director of the Better Business Bureau serving Wisconsin, said "Secret Sister" is a social media twist on the old chain letter scam.

With Secret Sister, you're promised upwards of 20 gifts, and they say all you have to do is add your name to the bottom of a list, provide some personal information, and send one gift to the person whose name is at the top of the list.

You're also asked to recruit the names and personal information of friends and family to add to the list.

However, Schultz said not only are you likely to get no gifts, but you're making yourself vulnerable to your identity and money being stolen.

If someone promises you a bounty of gifts or cash by mail, email or social media, the BBB recommends doing the following.

"If you do come across this, if it's via old school chain letter-like and it comes through the mail, you're going to want to report it tot he U.S. Postal Service," Schultz said. "If you do receive it via social media. you're going to want to report it to that platform, whether it be Facebook or whatever platform you're on. Then you'll want to ignore it and not participate in it."

The BBB said the Secret Sister scam is a pyramid scheme, which is illegal in the state of Wisconsin under its gambling and unfair business practice laws.

Schultz also asked people to be wary of fake virtual fairs or holiday markets.

Scammers try to mimic a real event by posting a link to a product or event, but when you click on it, you may accidentally download malware or a virus.

If you come across a scam, the BBB also asks you to report it to bbb.org/scamtracker so they can help warn others about it.

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