Social media’s ‘secret sister’ posts could be illegal

Heads up, Facebook users. If you see a friend post about a "secret sister" game, it could be illegal.

Searching for "secret sister" on Facebook turns up dozens of posts that look similar to this:

I don’t care where you live, you are welcome to join in a holiday gift exchange! I need 6 or more ladies of any age to participate in a Secret Sister gift exchange. You only have to purchase ONE gift valued at $10 or more and send it to ONE secret sister and you will receive 36 gifts in return!!! Let me know if you are interested and I will send the information! Please don’t ask to participate if you are not willing to spend the $10 as it would not be fair to the other participants. TIS THE SEASON! It’s right around the corner!!!

The popular myth debunking website rates this claim as "False" and says it’s highly unlikely that anyone who purchases the $10 gift will get anything in return.

As Snopes points out, these posts are also illegal. According to the United State Postal Inspection Service

There’s at least one problem with chain letters. 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. (Chain letters that ask for items of minor value, like picture postcards or recipes, may be mailed, since such items are not things of value within the meaning of the law.)

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