If you've been on Facebook or Instagram recently, you may have noticed a fun little game going around among your friends.
The game, which is taking over social media, is an online gift exchange called "Secret Sister." It promises that if you buy one gift for a stranger, you in turn will receive as many as 36 gifts back:
Hi ladies! Are you interested in a holiday gift exchange? I don't care where you live, you are welcome to join! I need 6 or more ladies of any age to participate in a Secret Sister gift exchange. You only have to purchase ONE gift valued at $10 or more and send it to ONE secret sister and you will receive 36 gifts in return!!! Let me know if you are interested and I will send the information! Please don't ask to participate if you are not willing to spend the $10 as it would not be fair to the other participant.
Naturally, people were quick to sign up.
Who doesn't want free gifts?
As the game has become more and more popular, many social media users have posted that they have started receiving gifts from their "secret sister."
People are claiming that random gifts are just showing up at their doorstep!
"The kindness and thoughtfulness of others warms my heart," this happy "sister" wrote.
Well, sorry to be a Grinch, but the "Secret Sister" exchange is just a new version of an age-old scam. And, according to the U.S. Postal Service, it is also illegal.
The trend was first noticed by scam-alert site Snopes, which investigated the matter after it began to surface at the end of October.
According to Snopes, the "Secret Sister" movement is the latest version of a chain letter hoax that has been popping up for years.
But there's a bigger problem with the "secret sister" trend: It's really, really illegal.
Krenn said the scheme not only violates the federal Lottery Statute, it also is against many state laws.
"Many states have anti-pyramid laws on the books that call into question the legality of these activities," he said. "Facebook's rules may also prohibit this type of activity."