Scammy and Killy: Best Friends Forever

A federal lawsuit was filed in September by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Detroit and a Massachusetts based charity against a Texas company, American Textile Recycling Services (ATRS).  The lawsuit involves the clothing recycling bins that we have all seen in shopping center parking lots.  But apparently these bins represent a billion dollar business in the U.S. and where there are that many zeroes, there are shysters looking to lie, cheat and steal their way to personal profit.  That’s basically what the lawsuit accuses ATRS of doing.

St Vincent de Paul had several of these clothing recycling bins in the Detroit area which their representative says they use to help people in need.  Their lawyer reportedly has a deposition from a man who admitted he had been hired by ATRS last year and has been towing away St. Vincent de Paul clothing donation bins and selling them for scrap metal.  In addition to the money he made selling the bins, ATRS paid him $150 for every bin removed and replaced with a bin from ATRS.  He stated ATRS ordered him to hide the company’s involvement.

Need more sleaze?  We got that:

The suit claims that ATRS would draft letters, sometimes fraudulently, saying that the charities no longer had permission to have bins at a particular location and giving the charities 72 hours to remove the bins.

The letters were then mailed on a Thursday, not to the local office in Detroit but, in the case of St. Vincent de Paul, to the national office in St. Louis. By the time the charities had received the letters, 72 hours would have passed and the bins, which cost about $1,300, would already have been removed before the charities could react.

ATRS denies any wrongdoing:

An ATRS spokeswoman said last week that the company had not received the lawsuit and could not comment on specifics, but denied that the Houston-based company was involved in any shady dealings involving metro Detroit donation bins.

St. Vincent de Paul is still determining its total losses from the alleged scam but a lawyer involved in the lawsuit puts into words what many people are probably thinking:

“It’s unbelievable, it’s totally unbelievable,” said Dan Dalton, the Bloomfield Hills-based attorney representing the charities, as he discussed ATRS’ alleged tactics. “Like who would do this kind of stuff?”

But ATRS still has at least one friend in the local charity community:  Michigan Humane Society which has been in league with ATRS since April 2012:

ATRS bins in the region get to include a Michigan Humane Society logo, and then ATRS cuts the Humane Society a check for the donated materials — $20,000 so far, according to the Humane Society.

[…]

“They (ATRS) have been a supporter of the Michigan Humane Society and, to our knowledge, they have been upholding all legal and ethical standards,” [Michigan Humane Society spokesman Ryan] McTigue said.

A ringing endorsement from a large, wealthy pet killing facility which holds no animal control contracts.  That is, Michigan Humane doesn’t have to take in homeless pets by agreement with any city or county, they want to take in all these animals, most of whom they send to the landfill.  Imagine how much Fatal Plus $20 grand buys.

Michigan Humane has no plans to change its relationship with ATRS according to the Detroit Free Press.

(Thank you Mark for the link.)

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6 Comments

  1. db

     /  October 9, 2013

    Live in Michigan and nothing here surprises me – at all. Birds of a feather . . . and all that.

    Reply
  2. Those clothing bins anywhere don ‘t help people in need.There was another scam where they were collecting the clothing and selling in other countries. I donate my clothing to my local community center where it helps locally.When you help locally you are able to see what is going on with your donations weather it be humane cause or animal cause.

    Reply
  3. Correction : Human

    Reply
  4. mikken

     /  October 9, 2013

    Judge a man by the quality of his friends and all that…

    Reply
  5. Piper

     /  October 9, 2013

    I make a living buying and selling unwanted clothing and have been for years now. I don’t have anything to do with donation bins of course but I do shop a lot of thrift stores, charity shops and resale stores. I have also done a ton of research on various such organizations and it is amazing how few dollars actually go back to whatever organization most of these places claim to support. There are some good ones, usually local charities that have one or two resale location where all the money is used to fund community needs. Many are linked to a church or ministry and these are always the places I donate to, even though I have no religious affiliation. Most of the big chains that are thought of as charities are actually huge for profit companies that make a killing off people’s donations with very little going back into the community at all. Many have managenment and board members making 6 figure salaries or more. So the likelyhood that the jeans you drop in a bin in a parking lot down the street from your home end up in the hands of a needy person in your community are pretty slim.

    I always tell people to read those donation bins VERY carefully because MOST of them are not charities at all. Or, like in this case, may give a small donation (much less than 1%) to a specific group to be able to plaster their signs on the donation bins and fool the public into thinking THAT is what their clothing donations will be helping. In reality, most are taken to warehouses, sorted into various grades of sellable merchandise which is then sold to resellers in huge pallets or bales. The rest is sent to clothing recyclers or sold overseas.

    There are some really neat things you can make for your local shelter out of used clothing. You can google how to make pet beds out of old shirts and then stuff them with cut up sweaters and such. It’s pretty easy even for a not so crafty person like myself.

    Reply

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