BBB Scam Alert: This Social Media Book Exchange is Really a Pyramid Scheme

Monday, January 31st, 2022

If you love to read, you’d jump at the chance to receive dozens of books in the mail. But think twice before you respond to a social media post about a suspiciously generous book exchange. It’s really a pyramid scheme! 

How the scam works 

You 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.”

For more information 

Learn more about the Secret Sister gift exchange scam that pops up each holiday season. You can also report illegal pyramid schemes to Canadian agencies or to the U.S. Postal Inspection Services.If you’ve spotted a scam, report it to BBB Scam Tracker, even if you didn’t fall victim or lose any money. Your report can help others avoid common scam tactics.Stay up to date on the latest scams by subscribing to BBB’s weekly Scam Alerts email.Learn how to spot a scam at