Influencer Simone Anderson is denying allegations she has not made donations to charity amid public scrutiny after she was found in breach of advertising standards for misleading Instagram posts.
“This has been a week of increasingly intense media speculation, which has escalated to a point where I am now compelled to make a public statement, to bring false claims made against me to an end,” Anderson said this afternoon.
“Last month, a complaint was made to the Commerce Commission requesting an investigation to determine whether I had made charitable donations from the proceeds of sales generated by my private Facebook page, Simone’s Second Hand Wardrobe.
“Assertions had been made on several social media platforms that I had not done so. I would like to be very clear that these declarations are incorrect.”
In the statement supplied by Outspoken by Odd, the talent agency representing Anderson, the 29-year-old Aucklander said she had made donations to Women’s Refuge and other charities and had receipts from those donations.
It follows revelations by the Herald on Sunday and Weekend Herald that Anderson was selling clothing and accessories gifted to her in the private Facebook group with more than 10,000 members, and claiming to donate all proceeds to charity.
Anderson, who has 313,000 followers on Instagram, became a social media influencer after she shot to fame for losing 92kg.
“Last week, the communications manager for Women’s Refuge made a statement to the press that no donations had been received from Simone Anderson.
“This discrepancy was made due to the fact that all charitable donations I make are under my legal name of Pretscherer; which is the name on my birth certificate, passport and bank account.
“I have made donations to Women’s Refuge, among other charities, and have receipts.”
She said the relevant evidence had been supplied to the Commerce Commission.
“When the communications manager was notified of this, she reviewed her records again, and confirmed that donations had indeed been made under the name of Simone Pretscherer.”
That information had also been forwarded to the Commerce Commission, she said.
“The Commerce Commission has since informed me that no further investigation is being made into this matter at this time.
“I felt that the fact that no investigation was being made was enough to exonerate me of these accusations; unfortunately it has not been.
“All I can do at this point is assure everyone that these accusations are untrue, and hope that my addressing this directly puts the matter to rest.”
However, the Commerce Commission may still decide to investigate the complaint, made on May 30.
The Herald understands the Commission is still assessing the complaint and is awaiting the outcome of a second investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority complaints board.
This week, the board found Anderson breached advertising standards for not clearly identifying advertising and commercial arrangements on her Instagram page.
Now, the complaints board is investigating a complaint over the secondhand clothing Facebook page.
A former member of Anderson’s secondhand clothing group, 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.
“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.”
The Herald has asked Anderson, through Outspoken, to verify the dates she made the donations to charity.
Followers have showed the Herald screengrabs of questions to Anderson online asking about proof of the donations dating back to August last year, but sources say the calls for transparency go back up to two years.
The Herald has asked that Anderson supply the tax receipts to support her statement and why followers claim she deleted their questions and blocked them from the now-unsearchable Facebook group when they asked about the donations.
Outspoken did not respond to the questions.