Federal and state law enforcement and regulatory agencies are strengthening efforts to address consumer-related fraud, including career education scams targeting vulnerable populations, such as the unemployed.
“The schemes we are combating are as diverse as the imaginations of those who perpetrate them, and as sophisticated as modern technology will permit,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.
Here are five to be particularly wary of:
- Internet Business Scam. Internet marketing pioneer Dan Janal, author of the great new book “Internet Marketing Confidential,” believes there are many good providers of information on how to build an online business. “Unfortunately, there are a lot of con artists masquerading as Internet marketers, webmasters, coaches and consultants,” says Janal, whose book is about the lies, half-truths and misconceptions that unscrupulous people use to prey on those wanting to use the Internet to start or grow a business.
- Worthless Certificate Scam. For-profit colleges account for nearly half of student loan defaults, even though they enroll a little more than 10 percent of higher education students. For example, the attorney general of Illinois filed suit against a for-profit school that had saddled individual students with up to $80,000 in loans while promising employment with law enforcement agencies that do not recognize the school’s credentials as valid.
- Diploma Mill Scam. Don’t be tempted by an e-mail claiming you can “earn a degree based on life experience.” Any company that offers degrees for a flat fee and requires little course work is a diploma mill. If the school is not recognized as an accredited institution by the Secretary of Education, the student may not be able to receive financial aid and employers won’t recognize the diploma.
- Scholarship Fee Scam. Scholarships and financial aid do not require upfront fees. While there are legitimate companies who will help guide you through the financial aid and college application process for a fee, disreputable companies may ask you for money up-front. Unscrupulous companies attach conditions that make it impossible to get the refund.
- Bogus Job Training Scams. The Better Business Bureau is warning job hunters to beware of opportunities to teach you how to work from home. While the job training offer may claim that people can earn up to a thousand dollars a day without leaving the comfort of their home, the BBB has received hundreds of complaints from victims nationwide who never earned a dime and were, in fact, ripped off for hundreds of dollars in upfront fees.
Bottom line: if it sounds too good to be true, watch out.
Henry DeVries, assistant dean for external affairs at UC San Diego Extension, is co-author of the books “Closing America’s Job Gap” and “How to Close a Deal Like Warren Buffett,” provides career tips on CW6 television morning news and can be contacted at
Hass and Associates, Five career education scams to avoid