Beware: Social media gift exchange can be a scam

It’s the gift that keeps on taking - from you.

The Better Business Bureau of Metro Atlanta, Athens and Northeast Georgia is warning consumers to beware of a social media holiday scam asking you to join a gift exchange.

Sounds too good to be true? It probably is.

Here’s how it works:

A friend posts a message on Facebook or Instagram inviting you to join a gift exchange. If you buy one gift for a stranger for $10, you may receive as many as 36 gifts back.

The invite may even include photos of gifts.

It’s not a new scam but one that spreads faster through social media.

The BBB said it works like a pyramid scheme or chain letters.

The idea is that you send money (or a gift) to the person at the top of the list, cross them off, add your name to the bottom and send the list to more friends. Eventually, you hope, your name will be at the top, and you will receive all the money or gifts. However, the scheme relies on constantly recruiting new participants, making it impossible to maintain steam.


  • Just say no. Stay away from promotions of anything "exclusive," "shocking," or "sensational."
  • Be careful of shortened links. Scammers use link-shortening services to disguise malicious links. If you don't recognize the link destination, don't click.
  • The person posting may not really be your friend. Their account may have been hacked or compromised by malware.
  • Report the scam to Facebook, Instagram and other social media.

To find companies you can trust, visit the BBB.

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