Charity scams: Bogus clothing collections

Ireland currently has an interested legal situation regards charities. Charities are registered and regulated in most countries. They are required to publish regular accounts so everyone knows how much they receive and how they use it.

On a side-note, this has led to some interesting revelations in the past. PeTA (the animal rights fundamentalist group popular mainly with empty-headed media whores and their followers) has been accused of funelling money in to groups like the ELF – a group described by the FBI as “the largest and most active U.S.-based terrorist group”.

Ireland seems to completely lack this kind of regulation. This is no central register and no requirement to publish accounts. Of course this lends itself to abuse. A good example of this would be the clothing collection scam. This is where little bags come through your door with a note asking for clothes to give to the needy. I received one of these a couple of weeks ago. Now, I can’t be certain it is a scam – it may just be a very poorly organised charity. Here’s why I’m suspicious.

Terrible English

If someone goes to the trouble of having these bags made and printed, you’d think they’d proof-read it first. Here’s an example.

We are small organization [sic] who helps families over seas [sic] that are in desperate [sic] of clothing. It’s your chance now to give us a hand to help these people in need. Your contributions might not seem like a whole lot to you but believe me it is to the people on the receiving end that aren’t as lucky as we are. We are all great full [sic] for your contributions. Unfortunately we do not accept cash donations.

They also quote a charity number at the bottom left of the bag but this is quite strange. The format of the number doesn’t match any in Ireland. The only ‘charity number’ that exists in Ireland would be the number used by Revenue (Irish tax office). The format of this number should read CHY xxxx (Where xxxx is a four digit number). The number quoted on the bag is C-Y 378973. In the UK, all registered charities have a 6 digit registration number. I searched the UK registry just in case this charity was registered there but found nothing.

They list no postal address, just a couple of contact numbers. The group seem to be called “Rose” but some fairly extensive googling turned up no results at all.

This is either a scam or a very poorly organised charity. Either way it’s probably best to simply bin the bag. What’s the point in giving them anything? If they can’t print a coherent appeal then how can they make sure that your donation will actually be used to help the needy?

Unfortunately I no longer have the contact number but if anyone knows about this charity or represents it, feel free to fill in the blanks. Here are some links with additional advice on charity collection scams

Trading Standards : Scam Charities
The Charity Commission : The Safer Giving Campaign

While Ireland has such lax charity regulation, I’d suggest that you’re better off visiting a known charity store and asking them how you can contribute clothes. Remember that anyone can post labels through your door and claim to be collecting clothes for charitable purposes.

(Update 19th July 2006)

Stickers continue to arrive. Some again from this ‘Rose’ charity. I think it’s called “Second Hand Rose”. I searched in the Irish company register and found a company called “Second Hand Rose Limited”. I don’t know if these are the people running the collection service.

(Update 1st June 2007)

Donncha O’Caoimh has posted some pretty decent information regarding these scammers. Theres also a lively discussion going on in the comments.

http://ocaoimh.ie/2006/11/13/do-not-delay-how-to-spot-a-fake-charity-flyer/

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9 Responses to “Charity scams: Bogus clothing collections”

  1. Bobby Says:

    Recently received one of these stickers in Stillorgan area of Dublin
    They quote a “REG NO.” of IE63989735 and quote two phone numbers: 04044xxxxand 085-726xxxx. Havent tried ringing them but agree they are probably a scam

    [Edited by Sean: I disguised the phone numbers from Bobby’s post]

  2. Bobby Says:

    A bit more feedback – these “charity collectors” appear to be selling your stuff for hard cash to bulk recyclers (although its not clear what they do with it) – checkout the likes of http://www.recycle.net/Textile/clothing/index.html for examples – they get up to 15 US cents per kilo!

  3. Sean Kehoe Says:

    Hi Bobby,

    Yeah, sounds similar to what we’re seeing down here. I’ve noticed some charity shops in the city have signs up warning people about these door collections. Bloody shame it’s happening since it’s really affecting their ability to get donations.

    I’m tempted to try calling some of them to see if they’ll provide a postal address and further details. I wonder if the garda will be able to do something about it?

  4. Sean Kehoe Says:

    Oops, didn’t notice the second comment. I wondered what they were doing with all the clothes, what you said sounds pretty plausible.

  5. Mary , mullingar Says:

    Every second week thes bags appear in Mullingar . Recently weve just got the stickers so you provide your own bag . The most annoying thing is that the collectors start at about 6 in the morning and bang the patio doors when closing them. Im sure it must be a scam , it helps get rid of rubbish but its not good if its hurting proper charities

  6. Sean Kehoe Says:

    Hi Mary, thanks for stopping by.

    Yeah, the harm it has on real charities is what annoys me the most. Real charities rarely ship clothing to developing countries – it’s simply not the best option. The best option is to sell the clothing in stores here in Ireland and use the proceeds to buy new clothing. This isn’t always the case but larger established charities tend to work this way.

    It’s a way of getting rid of old clothes but there are other options. Contacting local charity shops is a good one or just finding a clothes recycling facility.

    Here in Cork I receive a minimum of one sticker a week, normally it’s two or more. They all share the same characteristics.

    1) Bogus registration number
    2) No charity name or a fake one
    3) Mobile phone number and no other contact details

  7. Donncha Says:

    Just got one of these to my doorstep. It looks more convincing than the usual fake but it’s going to be added to my collection at http://ocaoimh.ie/2006/11/13/do-not-delay-how-to-spot-a-fake-charity-flyer/ 🙂

  8. Clothing Collection » Blog Archive » Unwanted Clothing Collection for Second Hand Rose Says:

    […] Further reading: The Preacher […]

  9. Sean Kehoe Says:

    Thanks, that’s exactly the same one I saw going around some months back. The line “All clothes are shipped to under-developed countries” really highlights the fact that they are either liars or a very badly run charity.

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