Company selling adverts that never appeared continues to target charities

A representative of Maxhill Media Publishers has approached a children's charity offering advertising space in publications that do not sell adverts through the company

A company selling advertising opportunities that do not exist is continuing to target charities, Third Sector has been told.

Maxhill Media Publishers 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 – but neither publication sells adverts through the company.

Another charity was also approached and handed over £650 to the company, Third Sector has been told.

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 for advertising opportunities that did not exist.

The DRWF eventually received a refund after complaining.  

Emily May Hughes, fundraising and communications executive at Cosmic, told Third Sector she had been approached by a representative of Maxhill who claimed to be selling advertising space in The Times and The Sunday Times for more than £3,000.

"I said no initially because we are a very small charity of four people and don't have the kind of marketing budget to do this kind of thing – and he said we could have it for £600," she said.

Hughes became suspicious and, after searching through old emails, realised she had been approached by Maxhill before, when she was offered advertising in Good Housekeeping magazine, but refused it, believing the company’s work was too poor quality to be genuine.

A spokeswoman for The Times and The Sunday Times told Third Sector the newspapers did not sell advertising through Maxhill and rarely offered it through third parties.

Hearst, the publisher of Good Housekeeping, has previously placed a statement on its website warning that it does not sell advertising through Maxhill.

Hughes said she was concerned that other small charities might be enticed by the opportunities Maxhill claimed to be offering because the person who had approached her "talks a good talk".

She said: "I wouldn't want anyone to lose hard-earned donations because of this."

She said she was aware of at least one other charity that had been approached by Maxhill and had been convinced to pay the company £650.

Maxhill has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Third Sector was able to contact the representative who spoke to Hughes. He said he was a freelancer who was unaware that the advertising opportunities did not exist or of the previous negative coverage of the company. He declined to comment further.

Any charities that have been contacted by Maxhill can get in touch with the Third Sector news team here

Third Sector has contacted Trading Standards about the company.

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