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Lawyers warn social media 'wine exchanges' are illegal pyramid schemes

Local attorneys say the exchanges gaining traction online are part of a pyramid scheme

Lawyers Warn About 'Wine Exchange' Schemes

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - Wine is a popular gift this time of year, but legal experts are warning about so-called holiday wine exchanges that are making the rounds on social media.

The posts ask for a minimum of six people to buy one bottle of wine valued at 15 dollars or more and send it to one secret person. The posts claim that anyone participating gets at least six bottles of wine in return.

Local attorney Brent Smith says not only does it sound too good to be true, but it's also against the law.

"It is certainly illegal if you are sending wine or alcohol in the mail," said Smith. "That is (the) first thing, there's no doubt is in most cases and especially in this case, if you're sending wine in the mail, that's illegal."

The United States Postal Service doesn't allow anyone to ship alcohol, while UPS and FedEx require anyone shipping it to have a contract with them, as well as a license to ship alcohol.

Smith says these exchanges are a modern-day example of a pyramid scheme, which is also illegal. He recommends sticking to Secret Santa exchanges with friends if you want to do a wine swap.


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