Book ex­change ripoff is back

The Southland Times - - Weekend -

An­other day, an­other scam do­ing the rounds on Face­book – al­though this time, this one is be­ing re­cy­cled.

A vi­ral Face­book hoax tricked peo­ple into think­ing their ac­count was hacked at the week­end.

Now, a new round of a so-called in­ter­na­tional chil­dren’s book ex­change has been ob­served be­ing shared on the so­cial me­dia giant.

It’s not just Ki­wis be­ing caught up. Peo­ple around the world are shar­ing the chain-let­ter-style scam.

The mes­sage, in most cases, reads like this: ‘‘I’m look­ing for peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in an in­ter­na­tional chil­dren’s book ex­change.

‘‘You can be any­where in the world. All you have to do is buy your favourite chil­dren’s book and send it to a stranger. You will re­ceive roughly 36 books back to keep, they will be favourite books from strangers around the world. If you would like to take part let me know and I will send you the de­tails.’’

Net­safe said it hadn’t re­ceived re­ports about the scam re­cently.

How­ever, it said: ‘‘This type of post ap­pears to have fea­tures of both pyra­mid schemes and chain let­ters, but it is un­clear from just view­ing this post if it ac­tu­ally is ei­ther of them ...

‘‘Posts like these can spread eas­ily on so­cial me­dia, as so­cial me­dia plat­forms are de­signed to eas­ily be able to share ideas with oth­ers. Net­safe would ad­vise that peo­ple al­ways ex­er­cise cau­tion when send­ing money or ex­chang­ing items on­line with peo­ple they do not per­son­ally know.’’

Here’s how it works

It asks par­ents to buy a book and send it to the per­son in the num­ber one spot on a list.

They are then told to re­move that per­son’s name, bump up the per­son in the sec­ond spot to num­ber one and add the name and ad­dress of their child in sec­ond place.

They then must send the list to six ‘‘mums, mums-to-be and grand­moth­ers’’ to do the same.

Those six peo­ple then send it to an­other six, and so on. Par­tic­i­pants are promised they will even­tu­ally end up with 36 books.

It is an ex­am­ple of a stan­dard chain let­ter, this time in Face­book for­mat. The prob­lem with these schemes is that un­less you are at the very top of the pyra­mid, the chance of get­ting any­thing in re­turn for the book you send are tiny.

Why you won’t ben­e­fit

The Com­merce Com­mis­sion puts chain let­ters such as this into the same cat­e­gory as il­le­gal pyra­mid schemes, which only ben­e­fit the peo­ple who start them.

The only way they work is by re­cruit­ing more and more peo­ple and gen­er­ally the schemes can­not de­liver on their prom­ises be­cause there are not enough peo­ple will­ing to par­tic­i­pate.

If a scheme re­quires 10 peo­ple to re­cruit an­other 10, and so on, there would need to be a mil­lion peo­ple in­volved by the time it got to just the sixth level of re­cruit­ing.

The scam is a chain let­ter ask­ing peo­ple to send books to chil­dren around the world.

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