Every year, a trend emerges on Instagram and Facebook that involves taking part in a global book exchange.

The premise is simple. You buy one book and send it off to a mystery person. Then, you’ll get loads of books posted to you in return. Sounds great, right?

Except, it’s not that simple. The trend is actually a horrid pyramid scheme, and here’s why you should save your time and money and ignore it.

What is the Instagram Book Exchange?

As you’ve been scrolling through Instagram Stories lately, you’ve probably seen a lot of people asking you to join something called the Instagram Book Exchange.

The post asks users to participate by buying just one book and posting it to an address. Then, it promises that you will receive 36 books in return from strangers around the world.

Usually, you have to reply with the word ‘in’ and you will be sent information on how it works and what you need to do to receive your books.

It successfully lures in internet users who share a love for reading. However, in reality, it’s just another horrendous pyramid scheme, which in many countries are actually illegal.

How the pyramid scheme works

The Instagram Book Exchange isn’t a scam as such, as some people will actually receive their books, but these are very few and far between.

It works in theory but actually ends up leaving people out of pocket. Here’s how it works…

  • If you respond to a post, you are invited into a list of participants. 
  • You buy a book and post it to the person who is at the top of the list. 
  • Once you have sent your book, you remove the person at the top of the list and replace it with the person who was in second place. 
  • Then, you add your own name into second place and send the list to six other people. 
  • As more people get on the list, the idea is that every person gets up to 36 books. 
  • However, as more people join the lists, the number of participants increases too quickly, and people end up sending out their book without getting anything in return.

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Twitter users slam the book exchange

People have been taking to Twitter to slam the Instagram Book Exchange and stop people from taking part in the pyramid scheme.

One person wrote: “Instagram allowing this whole book exchange thing become a trend again is my last straw i’m deleting the app.”

“Seeing the Instagram book exchange is worse than receiving chain mail,” said another.

A third person tweeted: “someone out there actually believes that they will be receiving 36 books in an Instagram book exchange.”

“Every few years the same book exchange pyramid scheme goes around Instagram and we never learn,” added another.

If you see any posts on Instagram asking you to join the book exchange, we urge you to avoid them at all costs.

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