Ohio AG sues University Painters
Petro Sues Virginia Company For Scamming College Student Workers
March 9, 2006
COLUMBUS – Attorney General Jim Petro today sued a Virginia company for deceiving Ohio college students into paying thousands of dollars for a business opportunity -- selling house painting services -- that held no realistic promise of profit, violating 14 sections of Ohio law that protect consumers and business-opportunity purchasers.
Petro filed the lawsuit in Franklin County Common Pleas Court against Maxco Development, Inc. (doing business as University Painters) and company officers Joshua D. Jablon and Thomas F. Torres, all of Alexandria, Virginia, alleging numerous violations of the state’s Business Opportunity Purchaser’s Protection Act and Consumer Sales Practices Act. Attempts to mediate more than a dozen open complaints his office received about the company have failed, he said.
“Students sign the University Painters contract thinking they will learn to manage a business and earn money, but they end up deep in debt with regular calls from collection attorneys,” Petro said. “This company preys on the inexperience and trusting nature of young people, and our lawsuit will bring them to account for that.” He said University Painters is reportedly recruiting now on college campuses in Ohio for the coming summer.
Petro asked the court for an injunction against the company, civil penalties totaling more than $300,000, and financial repayment to 13 students who told the Attorney General they were duped into paying the company thousands of dollars before realizing they had no realistic chance to profit from the venture.
According to the suit, the company violated state law by pressuring the students to pay the company roughly $3,000 for marketing materials and “logistical support” and misrepresenting the students’ legal right to back out of the contract during a standard “cooling off” period. Afterward, when the students failed to meet the unrealistic sales goals set for them, the company enforced monetary claims against them by invoking a “confession-of-judgment” clause in their contract, a ploy that put the students at an unfair disadvantage and is illegal in Ohio, the suit said.
Ohio’s Business Opportunity Purchaser’s Protection Act protects citizens attracted to promises of help in starting a business in exchange for making large initial down payments. The state’s Consumer Sales Practices Act prohibits sellers from misrepresenting the nature of their business, products or services; the price of their goods; or the terms of the transaction.
Consumers may file complaints with Attorney General Jim Petro’s office online at www.ag.state.oh.us or by calling 1-800-282-0515.
(Editors: Some complainants in this case have agreed to be interviewed for this story. Contact Mark Anthony at phone number listed below.)
- Complaint and Request for Injunctive Relief, Declaratory Judgement, Purchaser Restitution, Civil Penalties and Costs
For Additional Information on this Press Release:
CONTACT: Mark Anthony, Attorney General’s Office, at (614) 466-3840
Related: According to the Progressive Blog Alliance, the career services office of Duquesne University sent an e-mail to its students and recent graduates warning them of and providing a list of questionable companies, of which University Painters is one.