People in Michigan who receive emails or social media invitations to be part of a Secret Sister Gift Exchange might not realize that it is illegal. It involves an electronic chain letter that works in the same way as pyramid schemes, which are regarded as computer and internet crimes. How can such a proposal be recognized?
These chain letters make their way electronically in the time leading up to the holidays, asking the recipient to send a gift to the individual whose name is at the top of a list of names. The recipient must then forward that letter to a specific number of his or her friends, inviting them to participate and adding their names to the list. When the recipient’s name reaches the top of the list, he or she will receive gifts from all those whose names are listed below.
It sounds like an exciting way to receive many gifts, but there is a hidden risk to this process. Anyone who participates will be expected to provide personal information such as a telephone number, home address, PayPal address or bank details. By divulging that information, the person’s security will be at risk. Authorities say these schemes are regarded as illegal gambling that could lead to mail fraud charges, and if the U.S. Mail service is used, federal charges may follow.
Anyone in Michigan who faces charges of computer and internet crimes might be best advised to seek the support and guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If legal counsel is present from the start, severe consequences might be avoidable. A lawyer will do whatever is possible to prevent a conviction that can adversely affect the defendant’s career and personal life forever.