Raise your hand if you like books.
This post has been edited to reflect the following:
This “international book exchange” — while it sounds like a great, no-brainer deal — works like the Secret Sisters Gift Exchange BBB warned about a few months back. What’s the problem? It’s technically breaking the law. If money or other items of value is requested and a substantial return to participants is promised, the game is considered an illegal lottery.
According to the exchange “rules,” you can add your name to a list, purchase and mail one book, and you’ll receive 36 books in return. What is unclear to most is that the rules of this game constitute a chain letter, deemed illegal according to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Regardless of what technology is used to advance the scheme, if postal mail is used at any step along the way, it is still illegal.
But the law-breaking aspect of this phenomenon is not the only thing to be worried about. In order to participate in the exchange, participants must offer their name and personal mailing address. Paired with readily available information found on many social media profiles like birthdates, full names, and more, this constitutes an easy win for potential ID thieves searching for easy targets.
Not all participants who kick start their own exchange are scammers out to get personal info, but many are “schemers” – pyramid schemers, to be exact. The person who starts the exchange, and those first few who participate, are the ones who will benefit. You receive gifts from others depending on how many people sign up after you. The person you’re ultimately sending your gift to may have already received thousands.
BBB encourages everyone who comes across this game on Facebook to let others know it’s just too good to be a smart move.