Cuomo sues civil service exam company

Nick Rees Dec. 14, 2009, 3:19pm


POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey-based company on behalf of unemployed New Yorkers who were sold a study-at-home course that he alleges falsely promised to lead to civil service jobs.

State National Training Service, Inc., Cuomo alleges, caused numerous unemployed and desperate consumers to enroll its programs only to realize later that they had been scammed, Cuomo says.

Cuomo's lawsuit seeks to bar SNTS from doing business in New York unless it first files a $300,000 performance bond. The lawsuit also seeks restitution for defrauded consumers as well as penalties and costs to the state.

"This company tried to capitalize on the economic crisis with lies, exploiting New York's job hunters with false promises that did no more than bolster the company's own bottom line," Cuomo said.

SNTS and its principals, Michael Bell, Jr., and Michael Bell, III, are alleged to have solicited sales of the company's approximately $1,000 study-at-home courses through sales seminars held in specific regions.

Consumers would pay a nominal fee to attend the seminars, which informed the consumers that, if they took the course, they would pass a government civil service exam, making them eligible for a job with an average annual salary of $60,517, Cuomo says. Consumers at the seminar were also informed that, if they couldn't afford the program, they would be reimbursed through either the state unemployment office or the Department of Social Services, Cuomo says. The claims made to consumers were all allegedly false.

The lawsuit also seeks restitution for all consumers sold the courses in New York state from Oct. 13, 2006-present, as well as penalties to the State.

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