PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI/AP) — A Rhode Island company that makes jewelry from breast milk has been ordered to refund customers and return the breast milk they sent.
24-Hour News 8’s sister station WPRI-TV reports a state Superior Court judge this week approved a judgment and temporary restraining order against MommyMilk Creations and owner Allicia Mogavero.
State Attorney General Peter Kilmartin’s office sued this year after receiving several complaints from customers who said they’d sent the Westerly-based company bags of their breast milk but had been waiting as long as two years for it to send their promised creations.
WPRI says Mogavero must refund $15,000 to 114 customers from across the country and as far away as Singapore.
The company promises on its website, “All remaining orders are being completed.”
“We all work hard for our money,” Martha Crippen, director of the AG’s consumer protection unit, told 24-Hour News 8’s sister station Eyewitness News. “If someone is paying for a product or service, you need to deliver on that.”
Mothers who complained about MommyMilk said they mailed Mogavero baggies of their breast milk with the understanding she would turn it into keepsake jewelry, but years later they had still never received a product. Some women paid upwards of $100 for a single piece of jewelry.
In May, some of the consumers who had waited years all began receiving the same product via mail: a small, off-white bead. Mothers reached out to Eyewitness News showing receipts for entirely different products, enraged that their orders weren’t properly fulfilled and skeptical that the beads were actually made from their own breast milk.
Mogavero also offered umbilical cord and cremation accessories. One woman told Eyewitness News she sent Mogavero a piece of her umbilical cord to be preserved in resin, only to receive a letter in the mail four years later informing her that the umbilical cord had been lost. The woman said Mogavero never offered her a refund.
According to court documents, the AG’s office learned in May that Mogavero likely had upwards of 300 outstanding orders, and had accepted between $45,000 and $60,000 for orders that are still unfulfilled.
While none of the customers who filed complaints are from Rhode Island, Crippen said the complaints have rolled in from all corners of the country, as well as from women in places like Singapore, Australia, Canada and the U.K.
Mogavero’s business, based out of her Wakefield home, shot to fame in 2013 after being featured in national print and broadcast media. Mogavero never released her proprietary system for turning the milk into jewelry, but Crippen said her understanding is that the milk has been freeze-dried and is still in Mogavero’s possession, able to be returned to the women who sent it to her.
Crippen said the court will dictate when Mogavero will have to pay the $15,000 owed to the customers.
“A time would be set up when she would need to go into court to answer questions as to her assets, liabilities and expenditures, and the court will then decide a payment plan,” she said.