Wednesday, January 24, 2007
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Yet another dodgy clothing collection flyer has been slipped through our door (the same format and paper stock as all the ones I've mentioned before), but this time with a new, especially vile gimmick: breast cancer prevention. Here's some of the text included on the flyer (with a background of roses, of course):

DO NOT DELAY!
For yourself and for those who love you.

Project DO NOT DELAY! was founded to educate women who pursue a healthy way of living and won't allow their lives to be ruined by cancer. Breast cancer effects every 9th woman in Europe.
So far, so good (barring the minor departures from grammaticality). I'll skip the details about leaving donated clothing in a bag, etc. and get to the important stuff, the explanatory text at the bottom:

Do Not Delay is an important project that provides information and screenings for women in Lithuania to help prevent Breast Cancer. More information about a project visit our website www.donotdelay.org or write Email info@donotdelay.org.
Our authorized stock collector is Intersecond LTD, Company No 5713257.
13/14 New Bond Street, London W1S 3SX. Tel: 07983 018041.

Very detailed information: they even have a website, registered company number and a postal address on New Bond Street. But there are quite a few alarm bells, starting with the telephone number they provide. Numbers beginning with 079 are mobile phone numbers, and I've yet to come across a real charity that uses a mobile phone number as their first point of contact. They also claim to be a charity but only provide a company registration number (NOT the same as a charity registration). The rules are not different for international charities; they must still be registered in the UK to collect in the UK. The company listed as the "authorized stock collector" does appear to be a real company (registered in the UK and currently active according to Companies House), in the business of import and export of second-hand clothing. Their website (intersecond.com) contains minimal information and is indeed registered in Lithuania.

The "charity" itself also has a website, donotdelay.org (registered in Lithuania). But this website is just a redirect to a site at nedelsk.lt which has a long bit of text about breast cancer (and bank information in case you're moved to donate). Nedelsk.lt is a curious site indeed, first have a look at the URL you reach from donotdelay.org:
http://www.nedelsk.lt/index.php?set_lang_id=en&show_content_id=573
You might wonder what content appears in sites other than number 573. Strangely, seems to be nothing, except for an odd set of forums (in Lithuanian so it's hard to know what's in them). Oddly, the main page at nedelsk.lt contains a language-selection link "LT/EN" (the English one shoots you straight to 573 only). This seems very, very sneaky to me. But even if this IS a real charity (and it might well be) there is absolutely no way to know whether these flyers are actually linked to them in any way. I did send an email to the address provided, but I'd be shocked and surprised to receive any kind of response.

Of course I haven't been the first one to spot this flyer as questionable, check out this post which gives a very good explanation, and even a look at the collection process in action. That post has a number of interesting comments, one of which suggests that a number of "DO NOT DELAY!" people were arrested for stealing charitable donations (I have not been able to substantiate this claim).

All this suggests once again that a dodgy clothing collection company (of a non charitable nature) has come across a very inexpensive way to collect second-hand clothing to sell on, tricking people into thinking they are donating to a charitable cause when in fact they are just providing merchandise to be sold for profit. They also play upon people's natural laziness; why make the effort to donate to a known charity when "some other charity" is willing to come right to your door to collect the goods.


ADDED 26-JAN: On the morning designated for pickups by "donotdelay.org", we were surprised to receive a new set of flyers (same format, style, paper stock), this time purporting to be from "Orellana LTD" (a dodgy clothing collection company I've previously blogged about: LINKY, or just google "Orellana LTD" to see numerous other discussions of their questionable nature). Same scam, different name.

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