Scam settlement will benefit Westchester, NYC residents
A $650,000 settlement over a scheme to mislead people who thought they were donating clothing to charity clothing bins will ultimately benefit residents of Westchester and New York City. The Westchester Community Foundation has been selected to distribute some of the settlement dollars so that the charitable intent of the people who placed clothing in the bins will be fulfilled.
Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced late last year that his office reached a settlement with Thrift Land USA of Yonkers, Inc., a for-profit company which operates more than 1,100 clothing donation bins placed in shopping center parking lots, gas stations and other locations throughout the New York metropolitan area.
According to the AG’s office, the settlement resolves allegations that Thrift Land 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. However, Thrift Land sold the clothing at a huge profit and the charities named on the bins – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rockland County and I Love Our Youth, Inc. – received only a small, monthly fee for the use of their name and logo.
As part of the settlement, Thrift Land has paid $50,000 in penalties and costs to the state, and made a payment of $650,000 to the Westchester Community Foundation and the New York Community Trust.
“The Foundation is pleased to be able to distribute these funds so that the expectations of the clothing donors is carried out,” said Laura Rossi, the executive director of the Westchester Community Foundation. “This is a good reminder that it is vitally important to research any charity before you give, to ensure that its processes are transparent and clear.”
You can research charities on Charity Navigator.org and at the Better Business Bureau’s website.