HARRISBURG, Pa., Jan. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A Maryland-based computer training school that suddenly closed in mid-December, after taking nearly $2 million in tuition payments from Pennsylvania students, is the subject of a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Attorney General Tom Corbett said the suit was filed against ComputerTraining.com, Inc., (ComputerTraining) which 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."
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.
Students who enrolled at ComputerTraining and paid tuition for classes that were not provided should file formal complaints with the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection. Complaint forms can be obtained by calling the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-441-2555 or online at www.attorneygeneral.gov (Click on the "Complaints" button on the front page of the website and select "Consumer Complaint Form" from the menu).
Corbett also urged students to contact their bank to halt any automatic payments to the school. If they obtained student loans, they should contact their financing company to stop any additional transfer of funds to the school.
Additionally, students should contact the Pennsylvania Department of Education, Division of Private Licensed Schools, at 717-783-8228, for more information about possible assistance being provided to displaced students.
The consumer protection lawsuit was filed in Commonwealth Court by Senior Deputy Attorney General Henry Hart and Deputy Attorney General Michael C. Gerdes, of the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Editors' Note: A copy of the consumer protection lawsuit is available by contacting the Attorney General's Press Office at 717-787-5211.
CONTACT: Nils Hagen-Frederiksen
Deputy Press Secretary
SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General