The office of New York Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo is taking action to jail a Long Island man it says continues to exploit local residents through fake GED home study courses.

Robert Collins of East Meadow is accused of duping thousands of consumers into enrolling in his fraudulent course, even though multiple court orders had already mandated him to permanently close his business.

Cuomo is seeking restitution for the victims of this scheme and a 6-month jail sentence for Collins.

Collins runs two businesses — "Long Island Home Study" and "East End Home Study" — that claim they can award genuine, state-authorized high school equivalency diplomas through an at-home General Education Development (GED) test. His actions have been barred by multiple court orders and judgments since 2005, but he continues to sell fake GED diplomas, according to the attorney general.

"This man has repeatedly preyed upon Long Island and New York City residents who are simply trying to better themselves and increase their career opportunities," said Cuomo. "Any individual or business that takes advantage of unsuspecting consumers and blatantly ignores court orders will face the consequences."

Cuomo says Collins repeatedly promised consumers that they would receive diplomas "straight from the Education Department itself" and that the diplomas could be used "to get into any college in the United States."

Many of the consumers who enrolled in Collins' course were born outside the United States and were not familiar with the educational requirements for a GED. They signed up for the course expecting to obtain diplomas that would help them gain admission to college or trade school. Instead, Cuomo says, they received nothing but worthless "certificates" stating that they had completed Collins' course.

Under state law, students can earn the New York State High School Equivalency Diploma only by taking and passing the official General Educational Development (GED) examination. Any school offering a GED preparatory course must be licensed by the State Department of Education.

The test is free and given at centers that have been approved by the State Education Department and the GED Testing Service. The term "GED" is sometimes confused with advertised "General Equivalency Diplomas," but these other credentials, whether obtained through correspondence, on-line, or classroom instruction, are not New York State High School Equivalency Diplomas and are not recognized by the State Education Department.