Beware Of This "Secret Wine Bottle Exchange" Scam

Photographed by Nicole Maroon.
The holiday season is upon us, which means that it is the season for seeking out the best deals on gifts for yourself and your loved ones. But, beware an online gift exchange scheme called the secret wine bottle exchange where users are met with a claim that if you buy a $15 bottle of wine and send it to a "secret wine lover" you can get anywhere from six to 36 bottles of wine in exchange. Sound too good to be true? It is
The post has already gone viral on Facebook, but the wording of the post is almost identical to that of the Secret Sister Gift Exchange. The Better Business Bureau warned people last year about this seemingly fun secret Santa gift exchange that turned out to be an illegal pyramid scheme.
In an official statement the BBB wrote that: "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." Basically, these people are going to end up with your money and your home address — not a great combination.
In addition, there are strict laws about sending alcohol through the mail — so even if this deal were legit, there would be no way to actually mail it out to your loved ones.
Don't fall for this scam, no matter how many emojis are in the post.
The best idea? Instead of following cues from Facebook posts to join in on secret Santa deals that seem too good to be true, trust your instincts. Instead of relying on online posts for your secret Santa, why not host your own IRL version? If you want to give the wine gift, though, you can take a suggestion from our wine lovers gift guide. Or you can always gift a non-alcoholic gift to your favorite wine enthusiast. Either way, you know what you're getting.