RICHMOND (Legal Newsline) - Virginia Attorney General Bill Mims has filed a lawsuit against three local unemployment agencies over allegations the companies violated the state's Consumer Protection Act.
The defendants in the suit are Virginia Employment Services, Inc., Virginia Personnel, Inc., and New Beginnings, Inc.
After the companies posted job openings in local newspapers and on the Internet, consumers were charged hundreds of dollars to join a membership in exchange for "guaranteed" employment, according to Mims.
However, once consumers paid the upfront costs, the companies offered little or no assistance in finding employment, he said.
According to the complaint, the companies allegedly refused to refund consumers and made unauthorized charges to debit and credit cards.
Mims said his office filed the suit when the company refused to refund consumers even after a lengthy investigation revealed fraudulent activity had been recorded.
"People are working so hard to get through these tough times," Mims said.
"And yet, Virginia Employment Services used this as an opening to solicit those who can afford it the least -- people who are desperately seeking jobs."
Mims is seeking full reimbursement to consumers who paid membership fees in excess of $365 or more, as well as reimbursement for over-the-limit fees and overdraft fees incurred by unauthorized charges.
The State is also asking the court to issue a permanent injunction from such conduct in the future, as well as civil penalties and attorneys fees.