It may only be November, but scammers are already taking advantage of holiday goodwill. The latest seasonal scam is a gift exchange that's actually a pyramid scheme. Look out for this con on Facebook, Instagram and other social sites.
How the Scam Works:
You spot a friend's post on your Facebook or Instagram feed. It's inviting you to join a gift exchange, and it sounds like a great deal. If you buy one $10 gift for a stranger, you will receive as many as 36 gifts back. Some people are even posting photos of all the gifts they have received in the mail.
This "gift exchange" is the latest version of a hoax that's been around for years. It's the same premise as a pyramid scheme and or the pre-Internet 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/gifts. However the scheme relies on constantly recruiting new participants, making it mathematically impossibly to sustain. This may seem like a harmless hoax, but these schemes are a form of gambling and illegal in the U.S. and Canada.
Protect Yourself From Social Media Scams
Take the following steps to protect yourself and others from scam links shared through Facebook, Twitter and other social media: