This morning, through my letter box, I received a leaflet asking me for donations of unwanted clothes to support children in Africa. This is a well-known scam that has been operating under various guises in Britain and Ireland (and undoubtedly other countries) for a while now. The internet is full of articles detailing this despicable crime, here are just three: Consumer rights, Hounslow Council, and a blog site in Ireland.
I have reproduced the contents of the leaflet below. How do I know for certain that it is a scam?
- The only form of identification is a mobile number. What charity doesn’t have a legitimate name or office? I dialled the number at the bottom – needless to say, it is an invalid/permanently engaged number.
- The statistics are wrong. It claims that “over 3 million African children die every year from preventable diseases”. Sadly – very sadly – the figure is much higher, at over 5 million according the WHO. Any decent charity would get its basic figures correct.
- There is no legitimate, reputable Third World charity (or development NGO, or humanitarian organisation, as they prefer to be known) in Ireland that collects clothes door-to-door.
- Legitimate charities are obliged to display their registration details: e.g.: Concern Worldwide, a company limited by guarantee and exempted from using the word “limited”, Reg. No. 39647, Reg. Charity No. CHY 5745, Registered in Ireland, Registered address is 52-55 Lower Camden Street, Dublin 2
I don’t have to even begin to explain why this scam is beneath contempt.
I rang my local Garda station in Kilmainham to report the leaflet and spoke to a very personable and helpful Guard. He claimed – and I have no reason to doubt him – that as long as they don’t explicitly make a false claim in the leaflet, then there is little that they can do. And how can they prove that the profits are not being collected to support African children?
He also denied that it was a purely Eastern European phenonemon (he politely said that we have our own, home-grown ones). Again, I don’t doubt him on that one. He said the only thing they would do, incredibly, is if I rang them when the collection was happening, then they would pop up and try and intercept them. But he said that if there was no specific crime being committed, then they were probably only going to issue verbal warnings to local residents (“public awareness”, he called it).
My next step will be to write to my local TDs, requesting that something be done about these scams and specific legislation written to protect people from them.
Lastly, and most importantly, I urge anybody who does want to contribute to African children’s health and welfare, to do so through one of Ireland’s main humanitarian organisations: Concern Worldwide, Trócaire, or Goal.
AFRICAN CHILDREN IN NEED
We urgently need your help to support children!
over 3 million African children die every year from preventable diseases
A CHILD DIES EVERY 30 SECONDS
PLEASE HELP SAVE A LIFE TODAY
We need your
UNWANTED MEN’S, WOMEN’S AND CHILDREN’S CLOTHES, BED LINEN, CURTAINS, BLANKETS, SHOES IN PAIRS IN GOOD CONDITION
We are not allowed to accept cash donations
We will be collecting in your area on FRIDAY from 8.00 a.m.Authorised Collector – 0871 700 057