Secret Sister Gift Exchange has been gracing my Facebook newsfeed for the last week or two.  Seems like a genuinely sweet and enchanting idea.  The concept is to receive 36 gifts from 'Secret Sisters' in exchange for 1 gift with a $10 value.  Who doesn't like a little surprise to put them in the Holiday spirit?

Here's how the contest works:

Welcome to our secret sister gift exchange! Here's how it works:

1) Send one gift value at least $10 to secret sister #1 below.

2) Remove secret sister's name from #1; then move secret sister #2 to that spot.

3) Add your name to #2 with your info.

4) Then send this info to 6 other ladies with the updated name info

5) Copy the secret sister request that I posted on my wall, to your own wall. If you cannot complete this within 1 week please notify me, as it isn't fair to the ladies who have participated and are waiting for their own gifts to arrive. You might want to order directly from a web-based service (Amazon, or any other online shop) which saves a trip to the post office. Soon you should receive 36 gifts! What a deal, 36 gifts for giving just one! Be sure to include some information about yourself ... some of your favorites. Seldom does anyone drop out because it's so much fun to send a gift to someone you may or may not know ... and of course it's fun to receive. You should begin receiving gifts in about 2 weeks if you get your letters out to your 6 people right away.

Seems easy enough.  However, this is considered to be a form of a chain letter which is illegal.  According to,

"They're illegal if they request money or other items of value and promise a substantial return to the participants. Chain letters are a form of gambling, and sending them through the mail (or delivering them in person or by computer, but mailing money to participate) violates Title 18, United States Code, Section 1302, the Postal Lottery Statute."

Also, participating in this requires you to share  your address with people you may not know.  Putting you at an even greater risk.

Some do argue this, however, and the fact that it's illegal won't stop them from participating.  I've seen people say that it is their money and they can buy whatever they want and send it to whoever they want.  But it's the entire process that makes it illegal.  There's that expectation of something in return and by providing your address, you have the expectation...which is different then just sending gifts to someone.

Just keep your nose clean and stay safe.