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Company makes cash in the name of breast cancer

8:17 PM, Nov 29, 2012   |    comments
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DENVER, Colo (KUSA) - You might have seen them at bars or sporting events.

They are young women selling T-shirts and other items to raise money for breast cancer awareness.

You may assume you're giving to a charity.

Our news partner in Denver, KUSA, has learned they are actually working for a for-profit company that is making millions of dollars in the name of breast cancer.

The company is "Boobies Rock!"

They sell T-shirts, koozies and bracelets with catchy slogans about breast cancer.

The owner, Adam Shryock, admits some people who buy these items may think they're giving to a charity.

But make no mistake. He says he is in it to make money.

Emily and Melissa, who asked 9Wants to Know not to reveal their last names, made $25 an hour, paid in cash, to sell catchy clothing for "Boobies Rock!"

"We would go to different bars, restaurants, [including] Rockies opening day," Emily said.

""[We're] the kind of girl next door type," Melissa said. "[We'd go] downtown [on] Friday [and] Saturday nights."

Their sales pitch was simple.

"Would you guys like to help donate to a great cause?" Melissa said.

"[You're] doing something good, something right," Emily said. "Basically our opening line was 'we're with Boobies Rock! It's a breast cancer awareness organization. Would you guys like to make a donation to the cause?'"

Those "donations" added up quickly.

"About $5,000 a week, just [for] me," Emily said.

Emily and Melissa say, when they left the company in June, there were 15 other young women just like them, collecting cash from people all over Colorado.

"I think they thought pretty much what we thought, that they were donating money to a good cause," Melissa said.

While the words Breast Cancer Awareness are plastered all over the Boobies Rock website, it is not a charity.

You are giving to a company that is an advocate of breast cancer awareness, but it is a for-profit business," Shryock said.

The owner of Boobies Rock and another company the Se7ven Group is a 33-year-old entrepreneur who lives in a large home in Castle Rock.

Shryock says Boobies Rock merchandise is sold in at least 15 cities nationwide.

In two years, the company has made about $2 million selling breast cancer themed T-shirts and other items.

"We give a tremendous amount of money," Shryock said.

Shryock says his company has donated about $325,000 to eight charities.

That figure includes $250,000 paid to the Keep-A-Breast Foundation to settle a trademark infringement lawsuit.

"If we wouldn't have had that settlement with Keep A Breast, we would have given that money to someone else," Shryock said.

One charity, Pink Fund, received $50,000 and another, Young Survival coalition, received $25,000.

Others got as little as $100, all of it collected from the sale of Boobies Rock! merchandise in the name of breast cancer awareness.

Shryock says he does not condone the actions of certain sales women, who make people think they're donating to a breast cancer charity.

"When they're out there saying false information, it comes back on me. For the most part, it is not a problem. But it does happen from time to time," Shryock said.

Shryock says his company is looking at ways to be more transparent about where the money goes.

He says the goal is to build a fun brand based on breast cancer awareness that will continue to make money and continue to make donations.

9NEWS legal analyst Scott Robinson believes some people who give money are being misled.

"This is really reprehensible behavior. The owner can claim that he does not condone the practices engaged in, but the practices are inherently deceptive," Robinson said.

"I feel like we totally deceived them," Emily said.

"I was kind of disgusted," Melissa said.

Melissa and Emily say they walked away from Boobies Rock when they realized the money they collected, wasn't going where they thought.

"This is just a guy who is capitalizing on a deadly disease. People need to know the truth," Emily said.

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