HONOLULU (KHON2) – Online book exchanges are a trend on social media where friends encourage others to send a book to a stranger and in return they will receive 36 books from people around the world.
The Better Business Bureau says these exchanges sound like fun, but are actually an illegal pyramid scheme.
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The offer to join an online book exchange comes with the promise of new reading material and may even come from a trusted friend.
“You’ll send it to your friends and they’ll send it to their friends and the idea is you’ll get all these books, but that’s not what’s happening,” said BBB Hawaii market manager Roseann Freitas. . “You don’t know who they send it to and who they send it to. And that’s the problem, you don’t know where your information will land.
A name and address must be provided to join the program, and then the new recruit will be tasked with sending a book to someone who has already joined. But a problem arises if the new recruit fails to get someone else to join or if someone along the line fails to keep up their end of the bargain.
“And you sent it to your friends, but maybe some of them do and maybe some don’t,” Freitas said, “and that’s where it starts to go wrong. collapsing because you’re not recruiting the people you need. And that’s why it might work at first for some, but over time it will become less effective.
This pyramid scheme always obtains the name and address of the new recruit, even if their financial and credit card information is not at stake.
“And we know that with your name and address they can find out things about you and start stealing your identity,” Freitas said.
If a friend or colleague is promoting this type of book swap, ask them to stop or report their post on the social media platform. Other tips to avoid these pyramid schemes are to ignore emotional games – Fear of missing out or “brightening up someone’s day” are just attempts to pull you in.
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Click here for more advice from the BBB on how to avoid illegal book trading pyramid schemes.