Better Business Bureau: Warning consumers of wine bottle exchang - FOX Carolina 21

Better Business Bureau: Warning consumers of wine bottle exchange scam

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GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -

Tis' the season for shopping, Santa, and scams!

It's a new twist on an old scam. The Better Business Bureau said it's the same concept as the secret sister exchange but it's being done with a favorite party gift, wine. Whether you're partial to red or white, the words "attention wine lovers" would be enough for any wine enthusiast to take notice.

"You send a bottle of wine to some people who were tagged in it and you end up getting some 4 to 6 bottles back,"Amanda Knight said. She explains how the exchange is suppose to work. Knight was tagged in a wine Facebook exchange.

It's that love for the grapes that's pulling in more and more Facebook users to participate in a wine gift exchange.

"I was going to participate because I am actually an avid wine drinker but when it got down to the nity-gritty of having to ship wine bottles and all of that, I got a little bit nervous," Knight said. 

The Better Business Bureau is warning social media users of the dangers of the wine exchange. "This is a scam, as defined by the U.S. postal service, it's fraud and it's gambling," Courtney Beaty said.

Beaty said the post is take off of the classic sister exchange and a pyramid scheme. The wine exchange said after you've sent a bottle of wine to a secret wine lover, you could receive any where from 6 to 36 bottles of wine. The United States Postal Service said shipping alcohol from state to state is not allowed.

"Not everyone researches the postal code, not everyone knows the laws off the top of their head, so people see this and say I should get my friends involved and we can make this work for us," Beaty said. 

An exchange that makes it appears like anyone can participate regardless of their location. But that brings the BBB to their next warning. The issue of keeping addresses private. "How the group operates is more and more people at the bottom of the pyramid will get those people's information to send the wine bottles, so it might start with the your group and you may think you're disseminating the addresses, but it will trickle down," Beaty said.  

Many consumers figured there would be some loop holes. "I would also probably go through like Wine.com or something like that so my address isn't on there, if I were to participate in it," Knight said. 

The BBB said it seems like harmless holiday fun, but those who take part will end up with an empty glass. "I did not know it was a scam, I have not participated yet so I might with a couple friends but other than that, not so much," Knight said. 

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