Non Sequiturs: 11.18.18

* Walter Dellinger and Marty Lederman offer their analysis of the Office of Legal Counsel memo, written by Assistant Attorney General Steve Engel, on the appointment of Matthew Whitaker as Acting Attorney General. [Just Security]

* WWRMD: What Would Robert Mueller Do, in the event that he’s fired by Matt Whitaker? His options would be limited, according to Joel Cohen and Jennifer Rodgers. [The Hill]

* As for who will become the next Senate-confirmed Attorney General, here are some possibilities — including Glenn Reynolds’s picks. [Instapundit]

* Victoria Baranetsky, general counsel at the Center for Investigative Reporting, argues that the Jim Acosta case is about protecting press rights as well as due process. [Take Care]

* Facebook friends aren’t “real” friends — at least according to this interesting new opinion from the Florida Supreme Court, highlighted by Eugene Volokh. [Reason / Volokh Conspiracy]

* Managing partners don’t get no respect at law firms — and Bruce MacEwen thinks that’s a problem. [Adam Smith Esq.]

* Even though it has been out for just a few months, Westlaw Edge already has 1,500 subscribers — and if you’re thinking about getting it, tune in to this (sponsored) webinar to learn more. [Dewey B Strategic]

* Yesterday I spoke at the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention on a panel about technology, social media, and legal ethics, featuring Judge Don Willett (5th Cir.), Chief Judge Stephen Dillard (Ga. Ct. App.), Josh Blackman, and John Browning. Check it out!
Non Sequiturs: 11.18.18 syndicated from

The ‘secret sister’ gift exchange on Facebook is actually an illegal pyramid scheme (FB)

Mark Zuckerberg

  • There’s yet another spammy chain mail post circulating on Facebook — and this one is actually illegal.
  • “Secret sister” promises that you’ll get 36 gifts, in return for only buying one.
  • But it’s actually an illegal pyramid scheme, and law enforcement is warning about it.

There’s a “secret sister” gift exchange circulating on Facebook, that promises that participants will receive up to 36 gifts while only giving one of their own.

It sounds too good to be true, and (unsurprisingly!) it is. And it’s not just a dubious idea — it’s actually an illegal pyramid scheme.

It has been circulating in some form since at least 2015, and has had a resurgence in the run up to the holiday season, prompting at least one local police force to issue a fresh warning. So how does it work?

It spreads via a Facebook post advertising the exchange (36 gifts in exchange for 1!) and asking six people to join in. When someone does so, they’re sent a message asking them to: 1) Send a gift worth $10 to the “secret sister #1,” the first name on a list they’re given, 2) Move the person currently in second place on that list — the person who made the post they responded to — into first place, 3) Put their own name in second place. 4) Re-post the public Facebook post to their own profile, and recruit six more people to do the same thing they just did.

secret sister pyramid scheme

If there’s 100% recruitment and participation, then the poster receives 36 gifts, as each of the six people they recruited recruits six more people who sends them gifts. 

But it only works up to a point. It’s a pyramid scheme, reliant on a constant inflow of new members to pay old members their promised gifts. This means the people at the bottom have to lose out eventually — as there’s only a finite number of people in the world.

As such, it’s not just inadvisable to participate, it’s outright illegal.

Earlier this week, the Wauwatosa Police Department in Wisconsin posted a warning on Facebook about the scam, and linking to an article from the US Better Business Bureau (BBB) about the problems with “secret sister” schemes.

“The U.S. Postal Inspection Services says that gift exchanges are illegal gambling and that participants could be subject to penalties for mail fraud,” the BBB wrote. 

“Pyramid schemes are illegal, either by mail or on social media, if money or other items of value are requested with assurance of a sizeable return for those who participate.”

A Facebook spokesperson did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

Do you work at Facebook? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal or WhatsApp at +1 (650) 636-6268 using a non-work phone, email at, Telegram or WeChat at robaeprice, or Twitter DM at @robaeprice. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

SEE ALSO: I stopped making lunch for a week and switched to Ritual, the order-ahead app sweeping San Francisco that lets you skip the line. Here’s what I found.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 7 places you can’t find on Google Maps

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Morning Docket: 11.18.18

* “You were very busy. Wow. Wow. I always knew I liked him.” President Trump posthumously awarded the Medal of Freedom to the Justice Antonin Scalia on Friday and managed to crack a joke about the late justice’s sex life when referring to his wife and their nine children. Wow. [USA Today]

* Speaking about birth control… President Trump has proposed a new way for employers to get around the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate by creating a Title X loophole that would “hijack” programs that already have limited funding and send women to low-income family planning clinics to get their contraceptives. [New York Times]

* Will Biglaw be the next thing that millennials kill? Not only has Weil Gotshal shortened its partner track in order to keep its youthful talent from walking out the door, but the firm that once made a big joke out of work/life balance is now allowing associates to work from home once a week. [American Lawyer]

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‘A s—show in a dumpster fire’: Attorney George Conway, husband of Kellyanne Conway, rails against the Trump administration

George Conway

  • Attorney George Conway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, railed against the Republican Party and President Donald Trump during an interview with Yahoo News.
  • “I don’t feel comfortable being a Republican anymore,” Conway said on a Yahoo News podcast. “I think the Republican Party has become something of a personality cult.”
  • Conway, who declined an offer to lead the Justice Department’s civil division in June 2017, said he had reservations about taking a role within the Trump administration, which he described as a “s—show in a dumpster fire.”

Attorney George Conway, husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, railed against the Republican Party and President Donald Trump during an interview with Yahoo News’ podcast “Skullduggery.”

“I don’t feel comfortable being a Republican anymore,” Conway said on the podcast. “I think the Republican Party has become something of a personality cult.”

Conway described Trump’s tweets criticizing Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the ongoing indictments of Republican lawmakers Duncan Hunter and Chris Collins as “appalling,” and a sharp deviation from political norms.

“We’re talking about someone who has sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution and laws of the United States,” Conway said, “and to criticize the attorney general for permitting justice to be done without regard to political party is very disturbing.”

Conway, a litigator for the New York-based law firm Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, was reportedly the front-runner candidate to lead the Justice Department’s civil division. Conway declined the offer in June 2017, saying at the time that although he would “continue to support the president and his administration,” it was not “the right time to leave the private sector.”

Donald Trump James Comey

Conway said he had reservations about Trump’s relationship with the Justice Department as he was considering the offer.

“I’m filling out the financial forms and it’s like — I forget what time of year it was, it was like late April — man, I’m thinking,” Conway said on “Skullduggery.”

“I’m watching this thing, and it’s like the administration is like a s—show in a dumpster fire. And I’m like, ‘I don’t want to do that. I don’t know.'”

“And then you got the Comey firing, and then you got [Trump] going on TV saying, ‘I had Russia on my mind,’ and it’s like, ‘Oh, no,'” Conway said, referring to Trump’s 2017 firing of FBI director James Comey, who was investigating Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

“And then I’m driving home one day from New York, and it’s like ‘Robert Mueller appointed special counsel,’ and then I realized, this guy is going to be at war with the Justice Department.”

Conway has not been shy about his views toward the Trump administration. In tweets and opinion columns, he has criticized the Trump White House in matters relating to the Justice Department and jurisprudence, among other things.

This week, Conway organized a high-profile group of conservative and libertarian attorneys called “Checks and Balances,” which provided “a voice and a network for like-minded attorneys” who believe the Trump administration has compromised the rule of law.

Conway said he considers Trump to be “the lesser evil” when compared to Hillary Clinton, as part of his calculus on voting for him in the 2016 presidential election. Conway said he was unsure whether he would vote for him again, adding that “If faced with the choice again, I’d probably move to Australia.”

SEE ALSO: Kellyanne Conway opens up about how the president is affecting her marriage

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Trump once won a lawsuit against the NFL — but the result was an embarrassment

‘A s—show in a dumpster fire’: Attorney George Conway, husband of Kellyanne Conway, rails against the Trump administration syndicated from

Exhaustion Day — See Also


BIGLAW FIRM REACTS TO WIDOW: It shouldn’t take tragedy for us to talk about this, but talking about it is important.

MEANWHILE, THE FIRST AMENDMENT IS STILL A THING: So is due process, according to a Trump judge who ruled against Trump in the CNN case.

BEST LAW SCHOOLS FOR WOMEN: I think it’s cool that the Kavanaugh School of Complicity at Yale Law isn’t on this list.

I LIKE ELENA KAGAN’S TASTE IN MOVIES: I’d really like to see her question Thanos.
Exhaustion Day — See Also syndicated from