Thrift Land USA Scam
Scammers have no shame. They use the names of charities to make millions by selling your donations. For-profit Thrift Land USA scammed the public into believing that donated clothing would benefit a charity, instead they sold the clothing at a huge profit. Big Brothers Big Sisters and I Love Our Youth received only a small, monthly fee for the use of their name and logo.
Here are the details of this scam and what has happened to these scammers:
The New York Attorney General’s investigation of the Thrift Land USA scam found that the company:
- Used a charitable veneer to trick and mislead the public into believing that the clothing it collected would benefit the charity whose name and logo appeared on its bins;
- Entered into contracts with charitable organizations as a professional fundraiser without having registered as a professional fundraiser with the Attorney General, and without having filed a bond approved by the Attorney General, as required by law;
- Engaged in false advertising through mailings and its website which misled the public to believe that proceeds from the sale of used clothing placed in its bins benefited I Love Our Youth and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rockland County;
- Scheduled home pickup of used clothing through deceptive means, such as answering its own telephone number using the name I Love Our Youth;
- Falsely led people who arranged for home pickup to believe that their donations were tax deductible.
- Thrift Land USA’s owner Carl Vella made more than $10 million in 2013 and 2014 by selling the clothing to buyers in Mexico, Jordan and other countries.
“Duping members of the public into thinking that they are making a charitable donation, when in fact they are enriching a for-profit corporation, is both deceptive and illegal,” said New York Attorney General Schneiderman. “When a for-profit company masquerades as a charity, my office will hold it and its owners accountable.”
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has reached a $700,000 settlement with Thrift Land USA of Yonkers, Inc.
The Thrift Land USA scam is required to re-brand its bins so they do not state or imply that clothing deposited in the bins will benefit any charity or serve any charitable purpose. Thrift Land will also permanently attach a prominent disclosure label on all of its bins clearly stating that none of the clothing deposited in its bins, or the proceeds from the sale of such items, will benefit a charity. As part of the settlement, Thrift Land has also paid $50,000 in penalties and costs, and made a payment totaling $650,000 to two not-for-profit organizations, the New York Community Trust and the Westchester Community Foundation, so that the charitable intent of the people who placed clothing in its bins will be fulfilled.
In my opinion, this seems like a very small price to pay for scamming people out of over 10 million dollars worth of property.
– Source ag.ny.gov