The Commerce Commission has received a complaint about claims by influencer Simone Anderson on her secondhand clothing page that she donates money from the sales to charity.

And Consumer New Zealand raised concerns over whether Anderson was "in trade" when she listed the goods, which could make her liable under the Fair Trading Act for prosecution if she was and did not declare it.

It comes after Anderson, who rose to fame in 2015 after she lost 92kg and blogged about it, shut down the Facebook page and a Trade Me account when the Herald revealed a complaint about Simone's Second Hand Wardrobe was being investigated by the Advertising Standards Authority.

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That investigation stemmed from a complaint relating to whether content on the Facebook page, which had 10,768 members, was deemed advertising and if so whether the advertising was appropriately identified.

Anderson began the page at least three years ago, selling clothing and accessories gifted to her by fashion labels trying to leverage sales from her celebrity endorsement.

Influencer Simone Anderson's claims she donates money earned from online sales to charity, has resulted in a complaint to the Commerce Commission. Photo / File
Influencer Simone Anderson's claims she donates money earned from online sales to charity, has resulted in a complaint to the Commerce Commission. Photo / File

The 29-year-old Aucklander poses in the items on her Instagram page, which has 313,000 followers, before selling them for cut-down prices on Facebook.

The Herald has seen screen grabs from the page of listings where Anderson declared "all proceeds go to charity".

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In at least three posts, she named the charity as "Womans [sic] Refuge".

One former member of the page, Erin - who did not want her surname used for fear of a social media backlash - claimed that when she asked Anderson for proof of the donations to charity her post was deleted and she was ousted from the group.

"I have purchased several items from Simone, and paid for them believing she was donating to charity," Erin said.

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"When I asked her whether she intended to share any proof of the donations in a polite, not nasty manner, I was promptly blocked from her secondhand wardrobe page and my post deleted."

When questioned about evidence of donations to charity Simone Anderson said buyers could donate directly to charity if they preferred. Photo / Supplied
When questioned about evidence of donations to charity Simone Anderson said buyers could donate directly to charity if they preferred. Photo / Supplied

Other members who asked for transparency claim they were told by Anderson they could donate directly to a charity.

Before the page was deleted, Anderson's rules of engagement were strict: "All sales final, no relist. Payment must be made within an hour of commenting sold. All money costs to charity."

One member claims to have counted 240 items listed on the page over a month during the Covid-19 lockdown. Each sold for at least $30.

Another member claimed her friend received clothing from the page that was not washed and stained with make-up.

The Trade Me account, run under a pseudonym and with more than 900 trades, included a gifted hammock, GHD hair straighteners and a Dyson vacuum cleaner for sale.

Women's Refuge fundraising and communications manager Susan Barker said she believed Anderson had not donated to Women's Refuge nationally but she might have donated to a local refuge.

"Every donation, unless it's anonymous, would come through either a credit card or bank account and we would have a name attached to it because we have to receipt gifts - it's IRD [Inland Revenue] protocol.

"If she has donated to us, or any of our refuges, she would have tax receipts because every donation is tax deductible. She would have got confirmation of her donation and a tax receipt and a thank you from us."

Influencer Simone Anderson shows off a new hammock on her Instagram page before listing it for sale on Trade Me months later. Photo / Supplied
Influencer Simone Anderson shows off a new hammock on her Instagram page before listing it for sale on Trade Me months later. Photo / Supplied

Barker said it was concerning if anyone claimed to be donating to Women's Refuge if they were not.

"If this is what's happening we feel for those people who bought things thinking the money was coming to women and children and it's not.

"It is a shame because there are so many people who fundraise for us and do walks and percentage of profits, and it's terrible because it brings what they're doing into question as well."

Auckland Women's Refuge accounts manager Donna Hill confirmed Anderson had not made contact with the local refuge and it had not received any proceeds from her.

Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said if Anderson was earning an income as an influencer then she was potentially "in trade" when she sold the secondhand clothes.

A person may be "in trade" if they regularly or habitually offer to sell goods or services, meaning their customers are protected by the Fair Trading Act and Consumer Guarantees Act.

It also means any goods sold in a sub-standard condition can be returned for repair or refund.

The Fair Trading Act requires those in trade to declare that status when selling online.

A listing on Simone's Second Hand Wardrobe Facebook page before the page was deleted, shows
A listing on Simone's Second Hand Wardrobe Facebook page before the page was deleted, shows "all money costs to charity". Photo / Supplied

In July 2018, Palmerston North man Bilal Shurab was fined $1500 for failing to disclose his trader status and $3500 for selling an unsafe cot on Trade Me.

Duffy said if Anderson was misrepresenting that she was donating money earned from her online sales to charity, "then that's pretty naughty".

"That's an offence. She could be criminally liable."

The Herald put questions to Anderson through the agency that represents her, Outspoken by Odd, but there was no response.

However, the same day, stories of Anderson's dramatic weight loss from five years ago resurfaced as new articles on three overseas websites.

The Herald also sent questions via two of Anderson's Facebook pages but there was no response.

A Commerce Commission spokesman said the complaint about Anderson, received on May 30, was yet to be assessed and related to representation about donations to charity.

Inland Revenue said it could not comment on individual taxpayers but individuals and businesses in New Zealand must pay tax on their income.