Computer training school ComputerTraining.com collected nearly $2 million from students in Pennsylvania before abruptly closing down last month. Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has filed a lawsuit in a bid to get the students' money back.
The school offered computer training and certification programs through four Pennsylvania companies operating at locations at Bensalem, King of Prussia, Lancaster and Pittsburgh. The school also operated in 14 other states.
"Pennsylvania students paid anywhere from $13,000 to $25,000 for various computer training programs, only to be left out in the cold when ComputerTraining suddenly locked its doors in December," Corbett said. "These students were trying to improve their skills and build careers - only to be abandoned to face substantial loans or debts, incomplete training and a long list of unanswered questions about their educational futures."
According to the lawsuit, the schools knew, or should have known, about mounting financial difficulties, the threat of closure and the strong likelihood that they would be unable to provide training services for students.
Corbett said that students were required to pay all, or nearly all, of their educational costs and fees up-front, before beginning their courses.
"Despite growing financial problems, ComputerTraining continued to enroll new students and collect advance payments from consumers without disclosing any potential problems," Corbett said. "Additionally, the school continued to advertise classes and services on its website even after halting operations in December."
"Not only deceptive, but insulting"
According to the lawsuit, ComputerTraining also provided deceptive or misleading information about possible refunds.
"In a December email message announcing the closing, students were instructed to contact the Pennsylvania Department of Education in order to request refunds, even though the surety bonds that had been posted with the department would cover only a very small percentage of the outstanding tuition," Corbett said. "Knowing that the surety bonds amounted to only pennies, compared to the thousands of dollars that students had paid, the instructions to contact the Department of Education about refunds were not only deceptive but also insulting to all the victims."
Corbett said the lawsuit filed by the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection seeks full restitution for all victims who suffered losses, along with fines and civil penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation of the Consumer Protection Law, up to $3,000 for each victim over the age of 60. The lawsuit also asks the court to prohibit the school from operating in Pennsylvania.
Corbett said the Attorney General's Office has also filed a request for a special preliminary injunction against ComputerTraining -- asking the court to freeze all bank accounts and financial assets; prohibit the sale, transfer or distribution of any other assets; safeguard all student records and personal information; and preserve all financial and business records.