Crackdown on Illegal Clothing Bin Scam Expected to Start Thursday

Bin

You know those clothing donation bins padlocked to various corners in the city? Well, you’re about to see a whole lot less of them. Back in July, we wrote about the bins actually being a scam: They don’t “provide money to charities,” as many of them claim, but instead sell the clothing that unwitting Brooklynites donate to thrift shops and for-profit businesses overseas. The city’s way of dealing with them up to this point is to tag the bin, giving an owner 30 days to remove it from his property. But in 2014, the Department of Sanitation has tagged 2,006 of the bins, and only six percent, or 132 bins, have been hauled away.

A new bill expected to pass the City Council on Thursday would have the owners pay a fine for the bin, as well as call for the bin’s immediate removal. The bill was introduced by Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito in July, and it calls for a fine of $250 for first-time violations of attaching a bin to public property, and $500 for repeat violations. Bins on public property will be removed immediately by the Sanitation Department. Bins on private property would have to be registered with the city, with the owners keeping track of what’s received. If passed, the law will go into effect in 90s days. 

“Illegal collection bins are a public nuisance that have become a blight on our city,” Mark-Viverito told the Post. “Our legislation will put an end to these eyesores while ensuring New Yorkers are able to donate goods to organizations that operate within the law.”

And in case you need a reminder of what those organizations are, here’s a list of non-profits that will totally take that ill-fitting peasant blouse off your hands.

 

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1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you to Council Speaker Mark-Viverito for her diligence in solving this problem.

    Unfortunately, donation bin scams aren’t always as easy to spot as the pink ones are. Even well-kept, shiny, legit-looking boxes are sometimes not what they appear to be. Of particular concern to me are the yellow bins operated by the nonprofit ‘Planet Aid’, and the green and white containers owned by the for-profit ‘USAgain.’ Planet Aid’s regional warehouse is in Fairfield, NJ; USAgain’s local branch is in Mount Vernon, NY.

    Both companies have placed their clothes and shoes drop-boxes in the city as well as thousands more in many states across the country. And both have faced a storm of media criticism for disturbing reasons:

    1) For starters, the Chicago-based CharityWatch gave Planet Aid an “F” grade after analyzing its 2012 tax form and audited financial statements, determining that Planet Aid spent only 27% of its expenses on programs.

    Google search:

    CharityWatch Debunks Planet Aid’s Recycling Program

    2) A charitable spending ratio of 27% is certainly too low, but the actual figure may be far lower than even that. In 2009, WTTG News in Washington DC examined Planet Aid’s then most recent tax records and noticed many of the overseas charities Planet Aid claims to support have the same address. A list of South African charities was shown in example. But the South African Embassy told WTTG those groups are *not* registered charities.

    WTTG’s investigation found that ALL of the charities listed in Planet Aid’s most recent tax return are controlled by the same parent organization — a group called International Humana People to People Movement, which, according to its own web-site, also controls Planet Aid. (Humana People to People is not affiliated with the health insurer Humana.)

    3) Worse, Danish prosecutors have linked Planet Aid to an alleged cult called the ‘Tvind Teachers Group’. Five leaders of this group are Interpol fugitives wanted in their native Denmark in connection with a multimillion-dollar tax-fraud and embezzlement scheme.

    Google search:

    “Kindness into Cash” – exposé of used clothes company Planet Aid – pt. 1

    [More info is in the above report’s description box; click ‘Show more’ while on that page.]

    4) As for USAgain, reports going back a decade suggest that the for-profit company, to quote one TV news investigation, “… routinely pretended to be a charity so business owners wouldn’t ask for rent on the bin space.”

    Danish authorities have also tied USAgain to the Tvind Teachers Group, although, like Planet Aid, none of its officers are wanted by Interpol. Both companies’ laborers and local managers are probably just regular folks trying to hold down a job. But the text of Part 1 of the following report quotes a former USAgain branch manager who says company officials pressured her to join the Teachers Group, reportedly an elite group within the broader Tvind organization. Similar recruitment tactics are alleged by former Planet Aid employees.

    Google search:

    Millions In Clothing Donations Diverted From Charity – kirotv

    Local Mayor Wants Red Bins Out – USAgain in Seattle – YouTube

    [More info is in the 2nd report’s description box; click ‘Show more’ while on that page.]

    Thanks for the chance to express my opinion. Research before you donate.

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