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Scam Alert: Beware of the online book exchange

It's making the rounds on social media but don't fall for it because it's actually an illegal pyramid scheme

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It’s making the rounds on social media: The Book Exchange. It promises 36 books sent to you from people all over the world.

In return, all you have to do is send one book to a stranger and invite six others to take part in the so-called "pay it forward" exchange.

Sounds simple enough and actually a really good deal -- 36 books from other book lovers around the world and all you have to do is send one book?

Not going to lie, when the offer showed up in my social media feed, I was tempted to join but decided against it, and thank goodness because it turns out this book exchange is a hoax.

As director of advisory solutions at TrustedSec, Alex Hamerstone is a cybersecurity expert.

He’s well versed when it comes to online scams.

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to the Defenders team by emailing money@wcnc.com.

The Book Exchange is no different from other scams that seem to pop up periodically on social media. It operates just like the gift exchange scam Hamerstone warned of around the holidays. 

RELATED: 'Tis the season for holiday scams

“What they'll do (scam artists) is try to get you to sign up for these gift exchanges, have you send gifts to people with the promise of getting hundreds back through some kind of multiplier effect and you end up getting nothing," Hamerstone said. "So they receive your items and you get nothing back.”

The Better Business Bureau warns the Book Exchange is actually an illegal pyramid scheme.

While there's a chance you might actually receive a book or two, you've also inadvertently been duped into giving out your personal contact information to a complete stranger along with the personal contact information of the six friends you recruited to take part.

Bottom line? Take Hamerstone’s advice: “If it sounds too good to be true it almost always is."

Contact Carolyn Bruck at cbruck@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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