Beauty scam leaves charities and customers out of pocket

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A SHEFFIELD-based scammer has deceived multiple people, and two charities out of hundreds of pounds, Quays News can reveal.

Annaleigh Richardson (who also goes under the name Anna Richardson, or Annaleigh Pye), who runs The Pamper Project, sold gift boxes known as ‘Pamper Parcels’ to members of the public at a cost of £25.

Richardson claimed on The Pamper Project’s website that she would donate 10 per-cent of all money raised to Pain UK.

However, when Quays contacted the London-based charity, they told us that they had not received a donation of any kind from Annaleigh Richardson.

Scottish charity Pain Concern however, did confirm they had received a number of donations from Annaleigh Richardson, totalling £55.

Annaleigh sold approximately 20 Pamper Parcels, meaning this donation is compliant with the claim of her website.

However, Annaleigh also hosted 16 raffles of varying size, with a number being unlimited.

The proceeds from this were also supposed to go towards Pain UK. However, neither themselves nor Pain Concern could confirm that they had received a donation from her for the amount promised.

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This means that despite Annaleigh donating the correct amount of money for the parcels, Pain UK, the original charity Annaleigh promised to donate the money to, have been left completely out of pocket.

Even if she had listed Pain Concern as the charity she would donate to, they are still yet to receive £245 promised to them.

This all comes whilst Annaleigh has enjoyed a lavish spending spree, including Bobbi Brown cleanser oil, miracle moisture serum, and an LA hair weave, with the total cost of these being at least £236, almost the exact same figure still outstanding to Pain Concern.

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Not only has this potentially come at the expense of two charities, but also to those who bought Annaleigh’s products.

Mrs Richardson claimed on The Pamper Project’s website that the boxes would have an estimated value of ‘£50+’.

However, Quays spoke to a number of the customers, with their valuation of the box being £15, £35 less than what was promised.

Annaleigh also promised that each box would be ‘personalised to the buyer’, using the example that if the purchaser was vegan, they would not receive any non vegan-friendly products.

The products received by customers were almost exactly the same in each box, to such an extent that a customer who suffered from lactose intolerance received a number of chocolate items.

Other customers complained of receiving items far below the value expected from the box, including items from discount stores, and out of date make up that left one customer with a burning sensation when applied.

Companies affected by The Pamper Project: The response

Pain UK declined to comment on specific cases.

However, the charity did state they ‘only accept payments via cash, cheque or bank transfer’ they do not accept any donations via PayPal.

The charity also confirmed that they are working with Action Fraud, and have passed all evidence on to them.

Pain Concern said it had been contacted regarding The Pamper Project multiple times over the last fortnight. The charity continued: “If you see these raffles happening again – especially if our name is mentioned anywhere – please do help spread the word that people should not get involved and/or let us know.”

The Charity Commission said that whilst it ‘expressed sympathy’ with the victims, they do not investigate cases of this nature. The commission however, did advise potential donors to lake the following steps

  • before giving, check the charity’s name and registration number on our online register of charities – it can help you make an informed decision before donating by providing information about each charity, including its charitable purposes and activities, registered contact details, and its compliance and financial history and accounts

  • take care when responding to emails or clicking links to a charity’s website to ensure that they are genuine – instead, search online for your preferred charity to check you have the right web address

  • if you have any concerns about the legitimacy of a request for donations that appears to come from a charity, don’t hesitate to contact that charity directly to request further information

  • when approached by collectors on the street, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed

They also advised reporting any suspicious activity to Action Fraud.

Action Fraud declined to comment.

The Pamper Project and Annaleigh Richardson declined to comment and to participate in the investigation.

Pain, depression…but solidarity at its heart: the story of the victims.

““When something like this happens, it makes you feel like ‘am I that pathetic? Is that how everyone sees me?”

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For Chloe Conley (pictured above), 20, her words above can surmise her overall feelings after receiving the box and trying to communicate her grievances to Annaleigh.

The social media manager from St Helens bought two boxes, one for herself, and another for a relative, in order to ‘make them feel better’.

Both of these had contents that were pretty standard for the boxes given out, an Avon eye stick, some chocolate, some bath bombs containing hair, all of which coming to a value of around £10, a median valuation from the people I spoke to, certainly far less than the £50 promised.

Items received in Chloe's parcel.

Some of the items received in Chloe’s parcel. Images: Chloe Conley

Chloe elaborated on her reaction when opening her box: “At first I wasn’t really that bothered because I thought it was a fluke, but when I realised she’d done it to everyone else then I was fuming. It’s spiraled from there really. You (then) feel cheated, then you have the stress to deal with PayPal and Action Fraud, you have all these things now that all you’re going to do with is throw them in the bin, i’ll keep a couple of things but the most of them I’ll throw in the bin.”

It’s at this point Chloe opened up about why she bought the box: “I bought mine to make myself feel better because at the time I bought it I was severely depressed. I could have been one of them people teetering on the edge thinking ‘well no one else gives a shit about me I might as well just top myself.”

Whilst at first glance this point seems a little extreme, there is a valid argument in her words.

It’s something Stephen Klien mention in his work Learning: Principles and Applications when talking about association in psychology.

The idea being that there is a mental connection between states of mind, and our brains making certain connections with the world we live in.

For someone who was suffering from pain, whether that be physically or mentally, The Pamper Project’s products would have been tempting to them; acting as a conduit to escape that pain, especially if the money went to a good cause.

This association however, can work both ways, especially when incidents such as this occur: “Don’t take people at face value, don’t do it. You can see the good in people as much as you want but some people are evil. You can mask it all you want but it’s still underlying. “

Do I believe that Chloe will now be less trustworthy of strangers because of this? No, however this is a reasonable response for someone who not only has medical conditions herself, but also has to look after others as well.

This perhaps is the bigger issue that The Pamper Project has shed light on, not that Annaleigh has scammed people, rather used a charity’s name at the expense of those who could potentially, really benefit from the work they do; although may now be less likely to seek that help following this incident.

Another victim, Demi Donnelly, shares similar feelings, speaking on a YouTube video about the parcels she stated: “Bearing in mind that a lot of people who bought from The Pamper Project had a long term illness, it makes me feel sick as to how anyone could do that, bearing in mind a number of these girls have enough going on in their lives already”.

The psychological aspect of this however, doesn’t detract from the moral side of many young women being cheated.

I also spoke to Sydney Hewitt, who was charged double than what she expected for postage and packaging.

Like Chloe and Demi, Sydney received no contact from Annaleigh when she raised her grievances, something that (among other things) still feels raw: “to be honest if she didn’t try and go the extra mile with the lies and the scheming quite a lot of what she’s done, not just with the parcels, wouldn’t have been found out!”

‘Wouldn’t have been found out’ is the most interesting part of Sydney’s words.

It also highlights the positive that has come out of this.

Nine girls who wouldn’t have even recognised each other’s faces without Annaleigh’s actions have banded together in solidarity to promote awareness of her scheme, to such an extent, you wouldn’t be reading these words now if it wasn’t for this group highlighting the events of the past two weeks.

Chloe and Demi both agreed on this point, with the former admitting she has made a lot of friends through what has gone one, the latter also agreeing that there has been a lot of togetherness.

Whilst Chloe’s statement on what she’s learned from her experience, and her advice to potential mark’s: “Research into everything, don’t be a d******d like me. Because now I’ve got it all on my hand. If someone does scam you out of money take it straight to action fraud, because the more times that person has been reported the more likely it is to be investigated.”

I think there’s another lesson that can be learned from this episode.

Sometimes, you make the best of friends in the worst of situations.

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Oliver covers a variety of areas including a range of sports, news, politics and entertainment and produces packages for Quays TV. You can follow him on Twitter @olliemackenzie7.

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