BBB: Book exchanges linked to an illegal pyramid scheme

(WFRV) – Readers who sign up for a book exchange may unknowingly be victims of an illegal pyramid scheme, according to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

The BBB has announced that book exchanges have been linked to pyramid schemes ending in crooks stealing victims’ personal information.

How the scam works

BBB officials said the scam usually works when victims see or receive a message on a social media platform asking them to participate in a book exchange. Officials noted that the message/message may even come from a trusted friend or family member.

The message/post will ask the victim to provide their name, email address, and the names and contact details of a few friends who might be added to the exchange. After providing their personal information, the victim will be instructed to send a book to a stranger who has already registered. In return, the victim will receive 36 pounds from people around the world.

BBB officials said that while the book exchange may work initially, new people will stop participating or responding to messages, which will prevent readers from receiving the books they were promised. In addition to being left without a good book to read, victims will also have passed on their personal information – and that of their friends – to a complete stranger.

How to avoid gift exchange scams

In order to best avoid falling victim to one of these pyramid schemes, the BBB advises readers to do the following:

  • Before signing up for a book exchange, think about it logically and ask yourself, “Is it viable to give away one book and get 36 in return?”
    • Too-good-to-be-true offers like this are usually signs of a pyramid scheme, according to the BBB.
  • Never give your name, address, email address or other sensitive information to a stranger.
  • If you spot a pyramid scheme on social media, report it by clicking “Report Post” or “Report Photo.”

Readers can report illegal pyramid schemes to Canadian agencies or US postal inspection services.