The Citizens’ Advice Consumer Helpline has flagged the activities of Maxhill Media Publishers as a "potential scam", Third Sector has learned.
Third Sector reported the company to the helpline, which is the first port of call for trading standard complaints, after an investigation found that the company was still targeting charities with offers of advertising opportunities that did not exist.
An operative for the helpline, which operates as a gatekeeper for Trading Standards complaints, told Third Sector she would be flagging the complaint with trading standards departments at Merton, Richmond-upon-Thames and Wandsworth Councils and highlighting that it involved a potential scam.
Third Sector first reported on the activities of Maxhill Media Publishers in February after two charities, the Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation and the RNLI, handed over thousands of pounds to pay for adverts that never appeared.
The DRWF eventually received a refund after complaining.
Earlier this month, it emerged that Maxhill was still targeting charities after a representative of the company approached Cosmic, the children’s charity attached to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, London, offering it the chance to place adverts in The Times and The Sunday Times. Neither publication sells adverts through the company.
Another charity was also approached and handed over £650 to the company, Third Sector has been told.
Maxhill has also offered charities the opportunity to advertise in Good Housekeeping magazine and voucher booklets sent out by Saga, Marks & Spencer and the Women’s Institute.
All of these organisations have said they do not sell advertising through Maxhill.
The publishing company Hearst has placed a statement on its website saying Maxhill used "the trusted name of Good Housekeeping" without its permission and the two companies are not in any way connected.
The statement adds that it is working with the police to "identify and prosecute those responsible for this scam".
Maxhill has not responded to repeated requests for comment.
Any charities that have been contacted by Maxhill can get in touch with the Third Sector news team here.