BBB Scam Alert: This Social Media Book Exchange is Really a Pyramid Scheme
Monday, January 31st, 2022
How the scam worksYou see a post or get a message on Facebook, Instagram, or another social media platform about a book exchange. The post may come from a trusted friend or a family member. All you need to do is provide your name, email, and the names and contact information of a few book-loving friends. Then, you’ll send one book to a stranger who already signed up. In return, you’ll receive 36 books from people around the globe.Cool, right? Wrong. This kind of gift exchange is actually an illegal pyramid scam. The book exchange may work initially, but eventually, new people will stop participating or responding to the messages. Then, new recruits will never receive the books they were promised. In addition, you’ll have handed over your personal information - and that of your friends - to a complete stranger.
How to avoid gift exchange scams
- Ignore plays on your emotions. Don’t fall for pleas to participate in a book exchange because you’ll be “brightening someone’s day” or “paying it forward.” Think about it logically. Is it sustainable to give one book and receive 36 in return? Offers like these are sure signs of a pyramid scheme.
- Too good to be true? There's probably a catch. We all like to get things for free, but don't let this cloud your judgement. Keep in mind that any program that offers big returns for a small contribution is probably doing something illegal.
- Guard your personal information. Never give your name, address, email, 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.”