BBB: Don't pop the cork on social media 'holiday wine bottle exchange'

An example of at holiday wine exchange scheme posted to Facebook. (BBB photo)

The Connecticut Better Business Bureau urged social media users to be wary of "holiday wine bottle exchanges."

The BBB said it appears to be a pyramid scheme.

It said the holiday wine bottle exchange is spreading like wildfire without participants knowing that they are breaking the law.

The people who participate may not even receive anything at all for getting involved.

The posts typically say the sender needs between six and 35 wine lovers to participate in a "secret wine bottle exchange."

To get in on it, "you only have to buy one bottle of wine worth about $15 or more, and send it to another wine lover."

The post promises participants will "receive from six to 36 wine bottles in return, depending on how many wine drinkers join."

CT BBB spokesperson Howard Schwartz said it's too good to be true.

"This is reminiscent of chain letters of years past," he said. "In this case, the online presence spreads offers - good and bad - far and wide, quickly raking in significant amounts of money and gifts. More important, the scheme itself is illegal."

The people at the top of the pyramid are also looking for personal information, such as your home address, according to the BBB.

Schwartz said the scheme is similar to the "secret sister" one, in which people are urged to send between $10 and receive up to 36 gifts in return.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service called both social media schemes illegal.

Schwartz admitted that they seem reasonable.

"Pyramid schemes are against the law, whether by mail, email or social media channels, especially if the organizers are asking for money or other valuable items, with the assurance of a generous return for those who participate," Schwartz added. "Beware."

Users can report incidents using the BBB's scam tracker, which can be found at this link.

The BBB recommended completely ignoring the posts and do not share or repost it.

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.


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