Judge Slams Queens-based High School Equivalency Scam

Attorney General Spitzer today praised the ruling of a New York City judge who ordered thousands of dollars in refunds for consumers who were duped into paying for phony GED diplomas.

State Supreme Court Justice Leland DeGrasse of Manhattan issued a decision against the Queens-based GE Career Center, Inc. (GECC) and its president, Mikhail Fisun a/k/a Mike Davis of Brooklyn, which granted the relief requested by Spitzer's office.

"The court has delivered a strong decision that will help many individuals who were deceived by this scam," Spitzer said. "GE Career Center preyed upon the dreams of individuals seeking to improve their lives by advancing their education and turned them into a nightmare of dead ends."

Referring to the high school equivalency correspondence course as "a deliberate, well-organized and planned attempt to mislead the public," Justice DeGrasse barred GECC and Fisun from offering or selling their GED preparation course.

In addition, the decision held both GECC and Fisun personally liable to pay restitution to aggrieved consumers which could total tens of thousands of dollars plus civil penalties for its violation of the law.

In May 2002, Spitzer's office filed a lawsuit against GE Career Centers (GECC) alleging that it used false and misleading ads and telephone solicitations to induce consumers into paying between $100 - $150 for a General Education Development Degree, commonly known as the GED. For at least three years, GECC had been offering a correspondence course, targeting high school dropouts with appeals to get study materials and take GED tests at home.

Spitzer's office began its investigation when nearly 60 individuals contacted the Attorney General's office to complain that GECC staff misled them into believing that the test being offered was official, or that they paid for services but received nothing in return. In addition, consumers who received materials and took the test soon discovered that the "diploma" issued by GECC was worthless when they applied to a college or for a job.

Since the lawsuit was filed, an additional 40 consumers came forward to complain that they too had been deceived by GECC.

To file a complaint against GECC, individuals are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Hillary Weisman and Joy Feigenbaum of the Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.

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