AN international clothing scam exploiting the goodwill of Huddersfield people is exposed today by The Examiner.
Homes across town have been bombarded with leaflets asking for clothing donations.
Many state the clothes are "urgently needed" to help people in the "Third World".
One claims "God will reward for your good hearts".
But our investigations discovered that some clothes are being sold on across eastern Europe with no evidence the profits reach the Third World.
The leaflets never state they are charities but imply the clothes will be used for good causes.
Many readers have contacted us with concerns about these companies - in particular one called Orellana Ltd.
This company made national news with similar leaflets appearing all over the country.
No one as yet has been able to establish exactly where these clothes are going so the Examiner set up a sting.
We placed a basic tracking device inside our own bag of clothes. We lost contact as the clothes reached mainland Europe but then over a two months we got a phone call - and the truth.
AN Examiner investigation has revealed that clothing companies targeting Huddersfield homes are selling donated goods for profit in Ukraine.
Readers have described the practice as a "despicable trick" and one called for the companies involved to be prosecuted.
Thousands of leaflets have been distributed throughout the region asking for clothes to be donated to the Third World.
You contacted us with your concerns about these companies so we decided to investigate.
We asked you to let us know if you had received a leaflet and we were inundated with your calls.
A bag of clothes, containing a mobile phone registered with a tracking website, was left out for collection.
Long-serving Examiner columnist, Denis Kilcommons, kindly donated one of his stylish coats to the cause and the phone was sewn into the lining.
The bag was collected from Ainley Top and then transported to a storage unit near Rothwell, Leeds, before being shipped into France from Dover.
It looked for a while as if we had lost the phone but then we got a call from a woman in Kamenets-Podolskiy, a city south west of Kiev, close to the borders with Moldova and Romania.
She confirmed that she had bought Denis's coat at a market for 10 euros (£6.70).
Jack West, 73, of Salendine Nook, said the tactics of these clothing companies were "despicable".
He said his house had received a significant number of the leaflets over the last year.
He said: "I just threw them away, we recognised them for what they are.
"They're supposed to be charities but they're not, they're masquerading under a falsehood."
Asked whether he was surprised to learn that the clothes were being sold on in Ukraine he said: "I was surprised to learn it and I think it's a despicable trick because the people who are donating the goods and such are doing it under the impression that it's a charitable donation."
Noel Tyrrell, 75, from Mirfield, received three of the leaflets earlier this year.
He said: "I think it's absolutely terrible, they're terrible people, they're cashing in on the good ones, the charities.
"They should be prosecuted and taken off the streets."
He added: "We all have clothes we get fed up with and we don't mind giving them to good causes.
"Most of them are genuine because they have the phone numbers and they leave a container to put them in."
But he said he was always suspicious of the leaflets that asked you to leave clothes out in your own bag.
Annie Biedukiewicz, 83, from Golcar, said she had been given several of the leaflets over the last year.
"I don't think it's right," she said.
"If they can't work honestly then they shouldn't be working at all.
"They're deceitful aren't they?"
Another major concern about the companies is that they are taking away clothes from genuine charities.
Kath Armstead, a former volunteer in an Oxfam shop in Mirfield, said: "My feelings are that these companies are taking people's donations off the doorstep and are making their leaflets misleading as they are laid out to look like charity organisations when they are really a business.
"Charity shops rely on donations of good quality clothing and goods so that they have something that customers within their shops need at a bargain price and then the funds from these sales go to the people most in need."
She added: "The sale of cheap imported clothing will also affect the relevant countries' clothing trade of locally made goods."
David Lodge, from West Yorkshire Trading Standards, said they had been contacted by concerned members of the public about the leaflets.
He said: "There appear to be several companies operating and it is true to say that some are perhaps more legitimate than others.
"The public should be aware that not all clothing collections are from charity organisations and that some companies may be trading on the generosity of people who assume that their donation is going directly to the needy.
"It is not necessarily illegal to collect clothes and then sell them on but if people think they have been misled then they should report the matter to Trading Standards."
Mr Lodge added: "These matters and any other consumer problems can be reported to Trading Standards via the Consumer Direct helpline on 08454 04 05 06."
On all the leaflets there are contact email addresses. We have tried to get in touch numerous times but no one from the organisations has yet replied.
Yesterday we asked them again to comment on our investigation.
No reply was given.
THE EXAMINER STING
1. We asked colleagues to bring any unwanted clothes into the office.
2. An old mobile phone was charged up and registered with an internet tracking site.
3. Denis Kilcommon's fine white coat was selected and the phone was sewn into the lining.
4. The bag was then filled with clothes and the relevant leaflet attached.
5. We left the bag in Ainley Top as instructed and it was collected, presumably by van, at about 11am on Thursday, August 24.
6. We tracked the bag around Huddersfield. It went through Hillhouse, Fartown, and Dalton.
7. At about 3pm it was taken to some sort of storage unit close to Rothwell, Leeds. Presumably clothes are held here until collections come in from all over the region.
8. On Saturday, August 26, the clothes were transported south - possibly by lorry. Our bag was carried along the M20.
9. All the clothes were then transported across the English Channel at about 5.30pm.
10. We then lost contact with the phone but had included contact details on the back.
11. On October 1, we got the call from Ukraine confirming that the coat had been bought from a market.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THESE COMPANIES?
Orellana Ltd made national news when their leaflets started appearing all over the country.
A check with Companies House shows that Orellana Ltd has now been dissolved.
Another of the companies behind one of our leaflets is Help and Support Ltd. This is still active on the Companies House website.
Across Huddersfield, and indeed the country, leaflets of a similar size and with a similar message have been posted through letter boxes.
The collection dates on the Huddersfield leaflets were all co-ordinated so that different areas could be collected on consecutive days.
It looks like they could all be part of the same international organisation.
If any of the companies would like to comment on this please contact adrian.sudbury @examiner.co.uk or call 01484 437768.