Secret Sister Gift Exchange

Secret Sister Gift Exchange

Ho Ho Hoax


Are you getting excited to join in on a Secret Sister Gift Exchange that is being shared on social media?  It’s said that all you do is send a $10.00 gift to someone and you can receive up to 36 gifts back!  It sure sounds exciting and a great way to receive lots of gifts valued at $10.00 or more.  BUT, yes there is always a but when things like this show up.


The post goes something like this:                                                                                                                                                     Anyone interest in a secret sister gift exchange? It doesn’t matter where you live! You only have to buy ONE gift valued at $10 or more and sent it to one secret sister! You will receive up to 36 in return. Let me know if you’re interested and I will send you the information.  (Please don’t ask to participate if you are not willing to spend the $10)

So of course when you see this, you want to join the fun but chances are you won’t receive the 36 gifts.  You may not even receive one gift!  Once you sign up, you then have to get 6 or more people to sign up under you and everyone else has to do the same.  These scams, which are also known as “pyramid schemes,” existed long before social media and used to be conducted through the mail, according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service

This is the same way the old-fashioned chain letters worked where you send a dollar to the person on the top of the list and you get dollar after dollar in return…..or do you?  Not only is the gift exchange a scam, but according to the United States Postal Inspection Service, it is also illegal.

Paul Krenn, a spokesman for the USPIS, told BuzzFeed News that the hoax just ends up taking your money, in this case in the form of gifts. He said people shouldn’t be fooled by people who are posting they have received gifts, as it’s impossible for the hoax to deliver what it promises.

“As the gifts start to flow, early entrants may benefit,” he said. “However, for everyone to receive what they’ve been promised, each layer of the pyramid must attract new recruits. It’s mathematically impossible to sustain.”

He added that mathematically, by the time the hoax got to the 11th round everyone in America would have to be involved in the scheme for it to deliver the gifts it promises.

“The odds are likely greater that Santa Claus, himself, would fly his sleigh into the middle of Times Square to personally distribute the gifts,” Krenn said.

Also according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS), gift chains aren’t just ‘mathematically impossible,’ they’re also illegal.” Basically, if the $10-plus present you put in the mail is considered by the Post Office to be “of value” and the exchange promises the participant a “substantial return,” the USPIS declares, game over. “Chain letters are a form of gambling,” and “sending them through the mail (or delivering them in person or by computer, but mailing money to participate) violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute.” 

The other thing, you are sharing your address with people who you don’t even know.  Not saying that they will use it in the wrong way but since people are joining under other people and you don’t have a clue who they are but they have your address.  What is suggested if you want to enjoy a gift exchange, get a group of friends that you know and have your one fun Secret Santa. That way it’s just a friendly gift exchange instead of a HO HO HOAX


I have participated in an Ornament Exchange between a group of seven or eight friends for years and it’s so much fun.  But we all know each other and it’s only one gift. Someone draws names of who will send to whom and it’s exciting and fun to try to figure out who sent you the gift. The other fun part is hanging them on the tree year after year and remember good friends.  So if you want to get a Secret Santa going, do it among friends.


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Martha Demeo

I started my blog to review products. Since then it has evolved and now I teach people how to earn money online from the comfort of their home. Join the conversation. Leave a comment below.

14 Discussion to this post

  1. Nona says:

    I see this go around every year. If it seems to good to be true, it is. Much better off having a gift exhange between a small group of online friends.

  2. LadyInRead says:

    i had read about it but did not think of participating (that was good now that i know the facts)

  3. Alice Gerard says:

    I’ve done ornament exchanges with groups. It comes complete with someone giving directions. You pass the ornaments to the right, to the left, to the left again, etc. It hasn’t really taught me the difference between right and left but, who knows? Maybe some day, I will figure it out.
    Needless to say, I won’t participate in any of those pyramid schemes. I figure that, if it’s too good to be true, it usually is.

  4. Another MLM scam…
    A hoax is a more politically correct term than scam.

  5. Martha says:

    Yes, I like our small group, been exchanging ornaments for over 5 years and no one ever got “burnt”. I don’t know why with all the posts about hoaxes and scams people still fall for them. Thanks for stopping by Nona.

  6. Martha says:

    It shows up every year about this time and so many people still go for it. If you’re at the top of the pyramid, your chances of receiving a gift is slim to none. Thanks for stopping by LadyInRead!

  7. Martha says:

    Your ornament exchange sounds interested Alice. The one we have, we just pick names and send to that person. It’s so much fun and safe! Thanks for visiting!

  8. Martha says:

    That’s why I used hoax in the title Roy. The USPS calls it a scam, either way it’s good to stay away from. Thanks for stopping by.

  9. The Savvy Age says:

    Thanks for the heads up!

  10. I hadn’t seen this, but of it does sound like it’s a scam. All of this pyramid stuff is pretty hinky. Most of us probably learned that when we did chain letters as kids. How many postcards did you ever receive?

    An exchange of gifts, ornaments, or Christmas cookies among friends is a much safer way to go. Thanks for warning us about this hoax, Martha!

  11. Martha says:

    Your welcome Savvy Age. I hate to see things like this where people think they will make out great but end up only end up being out $10. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Martha says:

    Oh yes, the postcards then it went to send a dollar to one person and you’ll get rich! I’m sure everyone is still waiting for that Kyla. I don’t know why people fall for things like this, but better yet, why to friends try to get their friends to join in something they know is a hoax? Thanks for visiting!

  13. Samantha says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I shared with my friends who are thinking about joining and some backed out.

  14. Martha says:

    Glad it helped you Samantha. I don’t like to see people get taken and $10 is a lot for some people, thinking they will get so many back. Thanks for visiting!

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