At a time when unemployment is high and out-of-work consumers see the need for training, consumers should feel confident that anything they invest in training or education is legitimate, and will pay off.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has charged a New York City-based training company with betraying that confidence, running an employment scam that tricked out-of-work consumers into paying for expensive security guard training courses with false promises of jobs.
The lawsuit names the company, known as both C.P. International Security, Inc. (C.P.I.) and Gateway Production Security, Inc.
Schneiderman has already secured a temporary restraining order freezing any assets the company or its owners may have, and temporarily barring them from advertising job openings or selling security guard training courses.
“At a time when many New Yorkers struggle with unemployment and to make ends meet, this company took advantage of vulnerable, out-of-work New Yorkers to make a profit,” Schneiderman said. “My office will not tolerate fraudulent, deceptive and illegal conduct. We will seek the maximum penalties against this company as well as restitution for defrauded consumers.”
After receiving numerous complaints from victims, the Attorney General’s office conducted an undercover investigation that Schneiderman says confirmed that the company posted phony security guard job listings online and in newspapers. The company allegedly targeted Spanish and Chinese-speaking consumers in particular by placing ads in Spanish and Chinese-language newspapers.
You're hired, but...
According to the complaints, C.P.I. would then tell consumers who responded to the advertisements that they had been selected for the positions, but first needed to complete a series of security guard training courses, at a cost of $399.
However, after paying for and completing the expensive training, Schneiderman says consumers discovered that the jobs did not exist. Though C.P.I. had promised employment, it instead would offer “graduates” worthless “referrals” to security guard companies. When consumers attempted to pursue those referrals, they found that the companies that they were referred to had no knowledge of C.P.I., and were neither expecting the candidate for an interview, nor hiring.
In addition to making false promises of employment, Schneiderman says C.P.I. also falsely represented that consumers must complete the entire $399 package of courses to be eligible to work as a security guard. In fact, only one of the three security courses in the series -- the eight hour pre-assignment training course -- is required to begin working as a security guard.
Courses didn't meet requirements
In addition, C.P.I.’s training courses do not comply with state requirements for security guard training courses, including requirements for minimum hours of instruction and topics that must be covered.
Schneiderman's lawsuit seeks restitution for the thousands of consumers defrauded in the scheme, as well as penalties and injunctive relief prohibiting the company from continuing to operate. The Attorney General points out that those interested in becoming security guards will find that low-cost and even free security guard training courses may be available.
For example, the State University of New York’s Manhattan Educational Opportunity Center offers free security guard training courses for individuals who meet certain income guidelines, and many community colleges offer low-cost security guard training courses.