BBB Scam Alert: This Social Media Book Swap Is Actually A Pyramid SchemeOzark Radio News

If you enjoy reading, you’d jump at the chance to receive dozens of books in the mail. But think twice before responding to a social media post about a bizarrely generous book swap. It really is a pyramid scheme!

Ozark Radio News spoke with BBB Springfield Regional Manager Stephanie Garland about how the scam works and how to avoid it:

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How the scam works

You see a post or receive a message on Facebook, Instagram, or another social media platform about a book swap. The message can come from a trusted friend or family member. All you need to do is provide your name, email address, and the names and contact details of a few book-loving friends. Then you will send a book to a stranger who has already registered. In return, you will receive 36 books from people around the world.

Cool, right? Wrong. This type of gift exchange is actually a illegal pyramid scam. The book swap may work initially, but eventually new people will stop participating or responding to posts. Then the new recruits will never receive the books they were promised. In addition, you will have transmitted your personal information – and that of your friends – to a complete stranger.

How to avoid gift exchange scams

  • Ignoring plays on your emotions. Don’t fall into the trap of participating in a book swap because you’ll “brighten someone’s day” or “pay it forward.” Think about it logically. Is it sustainable to give a book and receive 36 in return? Offers like these are sure signs of a pyramid scheme.
  • Too good to be true? There is probably a catch. We all love getting things for free, but don’t let that cloud your judgment. Keep in mind that any program that offers big returns for a small contribution is probably doing something illegal.
  • Protect your personal information. Never give your name, address, email address or other sensitive information to a stranger. This will make you vulnerable to other scams and identity theft.
  • Report social media posts that promote pyramid schemes. If you spot a pyramid scheme on social media, report it by clicking “Report Post” or “Report Photo.”

For more information

Learn more about the Secret Sister Gift Exchange Scam which appears every holiday season. You can also report illegal pyramid schemes at Canadian Agencies or at the United States Postal Inspection Services.

If you spot a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker, even if you have not been victimized or lost money. Your report can help others avoid common scam tactics.

Stay up to date with the latest scams by subscribing to Weekly BBB Scam Alerts Email.

Learn how to spot a scam BBB.org/spotascam.

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