Forbes contributor Amit Chowdhry reported that the hoax—which promises Facebook users who buy gifts of $10 or more 36 gifts in return—provides the following instructions to victims (unedited):
- Send one gift value at least $10 to secret sister #1 below.
- Remove secret sister’s name from #1; then move secret sister #2 to that spot.
- Add your name to #2 with your info.
- Then send this info to 6 other ladies with the updated name info.
- 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.
Chowdhry reported that the U.S. Postal Inspection Service even addressed the Secret Sister Gift Exchange in a Facebook post earlier this week (embedded below), writing:
Consider a typical pyramid that involves six individuals in the chain. By the time you’ve reached the fourth level of participation, nearly 1,300 recruits must be onboard. Today, social media might make that a bit easier in than days past, which required chain-letter-type solicitations by mail. However, upon reaching the sixth level of participation, you’d have to attract more recruits than could be seated in Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
By the seventh level, you’d need more participants than folks living in Anchorage, Alaska. The ninth level requires you to recruit all of Houston and the Washington, D.C., metro area combined—and you still wouldn’t have enough participants. The 11th round requires everyone in the U.S. to join in if the promise is to be fulfilled. The odds are likely greater that Santa Claus himself would fly his sleigh into the middle of Times Square to personally distribute the gifts.
Readers: Have you seen Secret Sister Gift Exchange posts in your News Feeds?