HARRISBURG, Penn. (Legal Newsline) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett has launched a lawsuit against a Maryland-based computer training school that allegedly took nearly $2 million in tuition payments from Pennsylvania consumers before suddenly closing in mid-December.
The suit names ComputerTraining.com, Inc., a computer training and certification program that operated four Pennsylvania companies in 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."
The students, Corbet says, were required to pay all, or nearly all, of their educational costs and fees up-front prior to beginning courses.
ComputerTraining knew, or should have known, about mounting financial difficulties, the threat of closure and the strong likelihood that training services would not be provided to students, the lawsuit contends.
"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."
ComputerTraining also provided deceptive or misleading information pertaining to possible refunds, the lawsuit alleges.
"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."
The Bureau of Consumer Protection's lawsuit seeks full restitution for all consumers who suffered losses in addition to fines and civil penalties of up to $1,000 for each violation of the Consumer Protection Law and up to $3,000 for each victim over the age of 60. The lawsuit also seeks to prohibit the school from operating in Pennsylvania.
Corbett's office has also filed a request for a special preliminary injunction against ComputerTraining that would 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.