Everyone loves a free gift, especially when that gift comes in the form of 36 bottles of wine. That’s the booze blessing a new Facebook gift exchange promises to bestow upon you. All you have to do is mail one bottle to a stranger and you’ll supposedly get dozens of free bottles of wine in return. If that sounds like it’s too good to be true, that’s because it absolutely is.
Facebook’s holiday wine gift exchange is the newest in social media “Secret Santa” schemes, and it’s actually a complete and total scam.
You may have seen the wine post going around on your newsfeeds. It looks a little something like this:
The post says it doesn’t matter where you live or who you are. All you have to do is buy a bottle of wine valued at $15 or more and send it to one “secret wine lover”—because all of us winos are pretty quiet about our obsession, right? Once you send your bottle of wine, anywhere from 6 to 36 bottles will somehow magically appear out of thin air and wind up on your doorstep.
The post is sketchy on the details, but as Good Housekeeping points out, it looks a lot like the “Secret Sister Gift Exchange,” which is also a scam.
Snopes explains that these gift exchanges usually operate on the premise that you share the post with your friends, and then get everyone who responds to send gifts to the person who shared the post before you. Then, your friends share the post from your page and tell all of their friends to send stuff to you, and the chain keeps going on and on, forever, until humans cease to exist and aliens visit earth, find our abandoned smart phones, look at our Facebook pages, and think, “Now I understand why these idiots are extinct.”
The likelihood of successfully pulling off this wine exchange is slimmer than a Hadid sister’s skinny jeans. You’re going to end up wasting money, possibly mailing alcohol to someone underage, and getting exactly zero bottles of wine in return. You’re also probably sharing your home address with dozens of randos.
Most importantly, these gift exchanges are totally illegal.
“According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s gambling and pyramid scheme laws, gift chains like this are illegal and participants could be subject to penalties for mail fraud,” the Better Business Bureau warns in an official statement. Also, I’m sorry to break your booze-loving heart, but the U.S. Postal Service will not mail alcohol.
The holidays are rough, and it’s totally understandable if you want to drink your stresses away. But, instead of signing up for cleverly disguised pyramid schemes, maybe a host a White Elephant party where everyone brings a different kind of fancy alcohol instead. You won’t end up with 36 bottles, but you won’t go to jail for mail fraud either, and that’s a gift we can all appreciate.