State Shuts Down Phony Ged Mill, Operators

Attorney General Spitzer today announced an agreement with a Massapequa firm and its officers that requires the company to cease operating a fraudulent and illegal or General Educational Development ("GED") diploma home study course, and to pay $30,000 in restitution to consumers, and $20,000 in penalties.

GED Associates Inc, using the assumed name "Home Study Careers," resolved an investigation by Spitzer’s office that found it had tricked consumers into signing up for its home study course by falsely representing that it would award them genuine state-authorized high school equivalency diplomas after they completed the course. In fact, respondents had no license to offer a GED preparatory course as required under the New York State Education Law, and no authority to issue legitimate GEDs. Instead of receiving GEDs, consumers who paid for the Home Study Careers course received "certificates" that GED Associates Inc. tried to pass off as legitimate GEDs.

GED Associates placed advertisements in national publications urging consumers to get a "H.S. Equivalency Diploma with our E-Z Home Study Course" and sent out brochures to consumers representing that it offered a "High School General Equivalency Diploma course."

For a fee of about $200, consumers received course materials and "GED" tests, which they completed and returned to GED Associates by mail. GED Associates then sent the consumer the fake GED certificate, along with a "school transcript." Spitzer’s investigation found that, even after receiving the fake certificates, many consumers were not aware that they did not have a valid GED diploma.

Under New York law, any school offering a GED preparatory course must be licensed by the state Department of Education. Only the Education Department has authority to administer GED examinations, and to grant such diplomas. Prior to Spitzer’s investigation, the Education Department had notified GED Associates on at least two occasions that it was required to cease its operation of its home study course, but GED Associates ignored the Department’s demands.

Individuals with complaints against GED Associates or Home Study Careers are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s help line at 800-771-7755.

The case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Victoria L. Safran, under the supervision of Juan Merchan, Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge of the Nassau Regional Office.

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