WPRI - PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The owner of a Rhode Island jewelry company that promised to turn women's breast milk into keepsake pendants is now being ordered to refund 114 customers.
A Superior Court judge Wednesday approved a judgment and temporary restraining order filed by the Rhode Island attorney general's office against MommyMilk Creations and its owner, Allicia Mogavero. Mogavero is being ordered to refund $15,000 to the complainants and return the breast milk they sent her.
"We all work hard for our money," Martha Crippen, director of the AG's consumer protection unit said. "If someone is paying for a product or service, you need to deliver on that."
Crippen said the AG's office has been trying to work with Mogavero to resolve the issues since the first complaints were filed back in 2014, but failed to reach an agreement.
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 WPRI 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 said 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.