Research into @CharlieBinbags on Twitter

Charlie Bin Bags

After much deliberation, we feel the need to share our concerns about the Charlie Hennessy (@CharlieBinbags) Twitter account.

We first encountered this Twitter account whilst we were operating Sofia Solidarity Centre and he tagged us in a post.

We offered help ourselves, and asked people to support and encourage him; but it soon became apparent that he had set up a PayPal account to ‘help him find a flat’ and many people had already supported his campaign financially.

With this article, we seek to set the record straight about our own position and lay out the things that set alarm bells ringing for us. By sharing this now we hope to inform our followers of what we’ve discovered in order that they can make up their own minds.

We’ve clarified and given further details below, but in summary the red flags for us are:

  • @CharlieBinbags has refused all direct offers of help from us (a well-established and trusted grassroots organisation) and others, whilst accepting a lot of financial assistance from strangers.
  • @CharlieBinbags has since opening his account on 07/03/2018 shared details of at least *three different* PayPal accounts, two of which are still accepting donations.
  • @CharlieBinbags has come under increasing scrutiny because of his lack of transparency about financial donations and his use of someone else’s picture on his profile. He has nevertheless refused every opportunity to identify himself to us, with a promise of continued anonymity, and has refused all media enquiries. No one we’ve spoken to with a genuine Twitter account has ever met or spoken to him.
  • @CharlieBinbags stated in a tweet on 08/03/2018 that he had ALREADY received sufficient funds via donations for a deposit for a bedsit, yet at the time of writing maintains that he is still homeless..
  • We have discovered (and reported) several suspicious Twitter accounts that appear to be so-called ‘sock puppets’ connected to @CharlieBinbags, used to support and lend credibility to his own. These include one account in the same name as appears in one of his PayPal email addresses. All these accounts have suddenly disappeared (some reappearing) or changed settings to private, over the last week. But we have screen-grabs below.
  • @CharlieBinbags says he accesses Twitter on a phone with little access to Wi-Fi. Viewed with Twittercast, however, all his tweets show as via ‘Web Client’ – indicating that they’ve been posted from a web-browser (on a portable device or indeed a computer) rather than the Twitter app, as you might expect given his circumstances.

NOTE: BASED ON WHAT WE HAVE DISCOVERED, DETAILED IN THE FOLLOWING CASE STUDY, THOSE THAT HAVE DONATED SHOULD CONSIDER REPORTING THIS ACCOUNT TO TWITTER, CONTACTING ACTION FRAUD AND INSTIGATING CLAIM-BACK PROCEEDINGS VIA PAYPAL.

IN MORE DETAIL

Profile picture
The photo originally used by ‘Charlie’ is of a Florida-based Periscope user called Jody Hart, @Therealgloblyfe (previously @VigilanteDev) on Twitter, @globlyfe on Periscope and Jody GL Breeze on Facebook:

charlie-profile-pic charlie-profile-pic

During a conversation via Twitter’s messaging system, Charlie claimed that he was a ‘phone idiot’. Yet he set up his Twitter account on the same day as he was given a mobile phone and for his profile picture used a screen-grab of another user’s Periscope video. This is quite a complex process for someone with no technical know-how. Reverse image search won’t find a video screen-grab; it just so happens that some of our followers recognised the person pictured. Charlie has since said that this was an entirely random find. See @Therealgloblyfe account for tweets containing his communication with the user he took it from.

PayPal accounts
@CharlieBinbags has shared at least *three different* PayPal accounts between 07/03/2018 and the time of writing. At 22/04 paypal.me/binbagscharlie appeared closed; paypal.me/binbagcharlie (Brighton) and paypal.me/charliebags (Blackpool) were still accepting donations:

PayPal account BrightonPayPal account Blackpool

The Brighton account is registered with the email address charliebinbags@guy2.com. The Blackpool account is registered with cheyannehenna@rockers.co.uk.

The Twitter account for Cheyanne Hennnessey (@cheyannehennaxx) is among those we’ve observed and found suspicious activity and connections with @CharlieBinbags. Cheyanne Hennessey links to all the other ‘sock-puppet’ accounts via interaction by retweeting, tagging and discussion of charitable fundraisers. Continue reading below for more info…

Streets Kitchen’s involvement with @CharlieBinbags
When @CharlieBinbags first tagged us in a tweet, he was claiming to be homeless on the streets of Croydon. We invited him to Sofia Solidarity Centre to ensure he had a roof over his head for the night, but he refused, saying he was on his way to Brighton to look for work and to find somewhere to live:

Charlie's involvement with streets kitchen Charlie's involvement with streets kitchen

We found somewhere for him to eat for free in Croydon, close to where he claimed to be located, but he declined, stating that he had already found somewhere to bed down for the night.

We offered to buy him a train ticket to Brighton. He accepted, but when informed that we would buy the train ticket for him to collect, he refused. Charlie claimed he would instead be WALKING to Brighton (a 14-hour journey) rather than accept our offer; he said he would rather do things ‘on his own terms’:

Streets Kitchen offer to buy train ticket Streets Kitchen offer to buy train ticket Streets Kitchen offer to buy train ticket

As previously said, @CharlieBinbags has refused all direct offers of help from us. We are now blocked by his account.

Identity and transparency
@CharlieBinbags created a perceived association with Streets Kitchen by tagging us in tweets, retweeting us and encouraging his followers to donate to us during a period when he claimed he’d received sufficient donations. This meant that some Twitter users came to us seeking answers or reassurance when they became uneasy with his lack of financial transparency and began to question whether he was genuine.

We gave him our word that we would not disclose his identity if he was willing to share it with us in order to set people’s minds at rest. He refused our request. When questioned about his true identity, he says he ‘didn’t seek this sort of attention’, yet in many of his posts has tagged @CostaCoffee and @StreetsKitchen along with other organisations that have tens of thousands if not millions of followers.

He makes reference to friends in his posts, but has never tagged them or uploaded pictures. He does not interact with anyone on his Twitter threads as though he knows them personally.

@CharlieBinbags claims to want to ‘make something positive out of all this attention’, and could achieve huge amounts of support and donations for other vulnerable people if his story was confirmed to be true. Yet he has persistently refused to do anything that would corroborate his story.

Media
Naturally there has been considerable media interest in @CharlieBinbags but to our knowledge he has not given any real interviews – though he has alluded several times in vague terms to journalists he’s spoken to. When told that Channel 4: Dispatches wanted to work with him, he claimed not to have heard of them.

Various media organisations (HuffPost, Daily Mirror, Channel 4: Dispatches, National) contacted us regarding @CharlieBinbags as he ignored all their requests, so we eventually shared our concerns with them. Many of them agreed with us; their instinct was that something was not quite right. As far as we know, not one of them has followed up on this, unfortunately.

Via direct messages he has said he’s been filmed, but doesn’t know who by. Nobody has seen this footage, or is aware of its existence. He’s also stated to us privately that he was interviewed by a Brighton radio station, but they have no trace of that interview. In fact another of the accounts we consider suspicious, @GrumpyTrump4, tried unsuccessfully to get this appearance confirmed:

Twitter conversation re Brighton radio

Sock-puppet accounts
When we and other Twitter users began to publicly question the integrity of the @CharlieBinbags account, three accounts in particular were very quick to defend it – @AnneWilliamsss, @GrumpyTrump4 and @Johnmoore2000:

Anne Williams Twitter Gina Twitter John Moore Twitter

They attacked us in tweets and DMs, accusing us of bullying and harassment, apparently wishing to discredit our findings. Their names were noticeable because the same three accounts had previously posted replies to Charlie’s tweets encouraging him to ask for donations:

This prompted us to take a closer look at these accounts. We discovered that they were connected to each other not only in their interest in Charlie but also in separate interaction between themselves and three other accounts. We suspect all six to be ‘sock puppet’ accounts, typically created to offer a false defense of a scam account.

Anne Twitter profile Cheryl Twitter profile Cheyanne Twitter profile Gina Twitter profile John Twitter profile Payne Twitter profile

All of these suspicious accounts have similarities: with the exception of one, the profile pictures appear to be screenshots from video (we think to prevent image searches); they all claim to be vulnerable individuals (lonely, autistic, LGBTQ) or highlight their direct involvement in helping other vulnerable people; they repeatedly share or spam with multiple fundraisers on Gofundme, JustGiving and PayPal from their own and each other’s accounts, with vague or complicated or conflicting back stories and no follow-up after money has been raised.

Notice the similarity of the writing style between these completely ‘unrelated’ accounts:

Recognising writing style

They all use the hashtag #joinin247 to promote their causes to lonely or vulnerable people (the hashtag appears to have been specifically created to help lonely people connect with each other, for support). #joinin247 was one of the first things @CharlieBinbags shared on Twitter:

Join in 247 Twitter campaign

This week, Charlie was made aware that people suspect there to be a connection between his PayPal email and the Cheyanne Hennessey Twitter account. Since then, after being questioned by journalists over these links, some ‘sock puppet’ accounts have been protected and others deactivated.

Anne Twitter profileAnne Williams (@AnneWilliamsss)

  • Account was visibly active over last few days but has since been deactivated.
  • Opened account on 31/03/2017. On the same day, ‘Anne’ started a JustGiving for her autistic sister trying to escape an abusive relationship. The fundraiser was closed a month later, with £1000 donated: 

 Fundraising campaign

  • In DMs Anne has acknowledged that her profile picture is not her (it’s Filipino actress Arci Munoz):

  • Anne’ claims to be a trans woman, yet Twitter posts from March 2017 (promoting another JustGiving campaign), suggest she is a young mum with a newborn baby:

  • 19/03/2017–29/04/2017 as ‘Anna Wellings’ (the name was changed from Anna Wellings to Anne Williams), this person used JustGiving to collect money for herself and her newborn baby (raising £620), while supposedly living in Camden, London. The picture of ‘her’ baby was stolen from a family blog from 2011: http://dandebutlerfamily.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/stayin-at-homefor-moment.html.

  • This account regularly used #joinin247 and repeatedly interacted with the other suspicious accounts, retweeting their fundraisers and supporting their stories:

Gina Twitter profile  Gina Papa (@GrumpyTrump4)

Account was visibly active in past few days but has since been deactivated.

  • Commented on Jody’s (@VigilanteDev) Periscope video on 07/03/2018 – the day ‘Charlie’ created his profile using a screenshot taken from this video:
    (see last comment “smile!! xx”) 

  • Repeatedly shared fundraiser from Gemma Skillen (suspected fake account; see below): www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/fredaswish.
  • Messaged us warning about individuals who were sending us important information pertaining to @CharlieBinbags potentially fraudulent activity.

  • Posted (then deleted) fundraising info for ‘Donna’ on one of @CharlieBinbags tweet threads:

  • Repeatedly interacted with and on behalf of the other suspected accounts, retweeting their fundraisers, backing up their stories and using #joinin247:

John Twitter profile  John David Moore (@Johnmoore2000)

  • Account was visibly active in past few days but has been made private.
  • Joined Twitter 27/10/2017 and on 26/11/2017 started promoting a JustGiving page for a memorial bench for his granddad. This was posted hundreds of times, mostly tagging celebrities or other accounts with high follower numbers:

  • Prolifically retweeted and spammed with Gemma Skillens’ fundraiser for her grandma:

 
https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/fredaswish (see above), again constantly tagging celebrities. On 31/01/2018, he tweeted the page 60+ times to various celebrities; over a period of just a few days he posted it hundreds of times.

Cheryl Twitter profile  Cheryl Grimes (@chezzalicious20)

  • Account was last visibly active in February 2018, was deleted this week, but has returned.
  • 25/12/2017 ‘Cheryl’ started raising money for Donna Hathaway – whom she variously states is her own friend/ Cheyanne Hennessey’s friend/ both:

  • Frequently interacted with and reposts fundraisers from all suspect accounts and includes #joinin247:

  • Posted fundraisers for cat-lover ‘Ruth’, though the given PayPal address links to @PayneSilver1 (see below); repeatedly interacted with other suspicious accounts and used #joinin247:

Payne Twitter profile  Payne Silver (@PayneSilver1)

  • Account last visibly active in March 2018 but has been deleted this week.
  • Repeatedly deflected to other causes as per all suspect accounts:

  • It’s Payne’s PayPal that comes up on fundraiser shared by all suspect accounts for ‘cat-lover Ruth’:

  • On 24/05/2017 began raising money for Cat Rescue, saying he would match every donation – despite previously not having enough money to pay for his own cat: www.Paypal.me/catshome
  • 21/06/2017–26/6/2017: started campaign for friend ‘Dave’, who hadn’t been on holiday for 35 years. This fundraiser raised £60.

Quote from Payne: ‘I’ve had a few journalists contact me asking for interviews and info on Dave. He’s not on the internet, and is quite an old fashioned, private man and doesn’t really want his photo or his name in the papers/magazines. Thanks for your interest.’

  • Repeatedly retweeted Cheryl and Cheyanne’s fundraisers for Donna Hathaway. There are references in his tweets to another JustGiving page for Donna that closed at £1190:

  • Repeatedly retweeted @Johnmoore2000 memorial-bench fundraiser.

Cheyanne Twitter profile  Cheyanne Hennessey (@Cheyannehennaxx)

  • Account last visibly active late February 2018, was deleted recently, but has since returned.
  • Has the same name as the email address as linked to PayPal account posted by @CharlieBinbags.

  • Repeatedly retweeted various fundraisers for or by Donna Hathaway:

  • Repeatedly retweeted fundraisers for ‘cat-lover Ruth’:

  • Made much use of #joinin247:

Included hundreds of times in tweets from the above accounts were links to the following fundraisers:

Anne Williams spam shares:

1: JustGiving: Anne Williams; save her sister from an abusive relationship; closed 29/04/2017 at £1000. https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/annessister

2: GoFundMe: Anna Williams; trans safehouse; ongoing, £0. https://www.gofundme.com/rainbowsafehouse

3: JustGiving: Anna Wellings; help her with her baby, escaped from an abusive relationship; closed 19/03/2017 at £620. https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/anna-wellings-1?utm_id=60&utm_term=Y3pX7qDvY

Gina Papa spam shares:

4: PayPal: Payne Silvers; help elderly Ruth save cats. https://www.paypal.me/catshome

JustGiving: Anna Wellngs; help her with her baby, escaped from an abusive relationship. (See 3, above)

Cheyanne Hennessey spam shares:

PayPal: Payne Silvers; help elderly Ruth save cats. (See 4, above)

5: JustGiving; Donna Hathaway (her ‘friend’); get me back on my feet; £5, ends 01/05/2018.

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/helpdonna

6: PayPal; Donna Hathaway (her ‘friend’); help Donna take homeless people to the cinema/have a night out/recover from bad time.

https://www.paypal.me/donnatello

7: JustGiving; Donna Hathaway (her ‘friend’); help fulfill her neighbour’s dream; closed 05/10/2017 at £10.https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/elsiescruise

8: JustGiving: John Moore; get a memorial bench for my granddad; closed 19/01/2018 at £15. (Her tweets deleted but show in replies/mentions on John David Moore’s acc.) https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/grandadsbench

9: JustGiving; Donna Hathaway; help my dog; closed 05/11/2017 at £325. (See threads) https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/bouncer

Cheryl Grimes spam shares:

10: JustGiving: Gemma Skillen; make my dying grandmother’s wish come true; closed 28/02/2018 at £0.https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/fredaswish

PayPal: Payne Silvers; help elderly Ruth save cats. (See 4, above)

JustGiving: Donna Hathaway (via her ‘friend’ Cheyanne Hennessey); get me back on my feet. (See 5, above)

JustGiving: John Moore; get a memorial bench for my granddad. (See 8, above)

PayPal; Donna Hathaway (her ‘friend’); help Donna have a night out/recover from bad time. (See 6, above)

Payne Silver spam shares:

PayPal: Payne Silvers; help elderly Ruth save cats. (See 4, above)

11: JustGiving: Payne Silvers; help me save my cat; closed 25/05/2017 at £1250. https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/gizmothecat

JustGiving: John Moore; get a memorial bench for my granddad. (See 8, above)

12: JustGiving; Donna Hathaway; get me back on my feet; closed 06/12/2017 at £1190. (NB same story different campaign; Cheyanne has deleted tweets relating to this but is in replies/mentions…)

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/donnaneedshelp

JustGiving; Donna Hathaway; help my dog. (See 9, above; in threads)

13: JustGiving; for Dave (exactly the same back story) who needs a holiday; closed at £3035. https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/davestravels

John David Moore spam shares:

JustGiving: Gemma Skillen; make my dying grandmother’s wish come true. (See 10, above)

JustGiving; Donna Hathaway (Cheyanne’s ‘friend’); get me back on my feet. (See 5, above)

We also found many links to this account:

Gemma Skillen (Stopped posting 01/03/2018)

Summary

This is purely a list of gathered information and opinion, we are not 100% sure of anything, and we are not alleging anything. We hope @CharlieBinbags is genuine, and that all money donated has gone to a worthy cause, however we feel our concerns have not been addressed, despite being given ample opportunity to do so.

If any of the people detailed in our investigation would like to counter any of the information provided, they are free to do so publicly or privately. All of our contact information is freely available, and we are happy to correct any discrepancies.

We don’t want the public to be dissuaded from donating to good causes but we want them to do everything in their power to ensure that the fundraiser is genuine before donating/sharing.

Additional press coverage:

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