Today’s news:

Bayside biz’s fake GEDs didn’t make grade: Spitzer

A Bayside company offering correspondence classes for high school equivalency diplomas has been accused of fooling its customers with bogus degrees, State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said last week.

Spitzer filed papers in State Supreme Court in Manhattan last week accusing the GE Career Center Inc. of duping customers into paying hundreds of dollars for correspondence courses resulting in fake diplomas.

The GE Career Center has a mailbox at 45-40 Bell Blvd., Spitzer’s office said, but the company is operated by Mikhail Fisun of Brooklyn. Fisun could not be reached for comment as of press time.

The attorney general is seeking a court order to shut down the GE Career Center, to force the business to repay its customers and to obtain civil penalties plus court costs from the firm for violating state consumer protection laws.

“A high school diploma is an important step on the ladder of success,” Spitzer said in a news release. “This company pulled the ladder out from under dozens of individuals who were trying to get ahead.”

Nearly 40,000 people across the state obtained their high school equivalency diploma, or GED, last year, a state Education Department spokesman said Monday.

Only the state Education Department can administer the General Education Development test that allows a person to earn a high school equivalency diploma, Spitzer’s office said, and only the Education Department administers GED diplomas.

Using advertisements that touted the at-home learning program and promised customers the diploma offered could be used to enroll in college or get a job, the GE Career Center allegedly tricked more than 50 individuals into signing up, Spitzer said.

The GE Career Center ads said customers would get “all the study materials necessary to complete your GED course,” and after successful completion of classes a transcript of the customer’s grades and a diploma would be provided, Spitzer said. Some customers received nothing at all or discovered that the diplomas they earned were fake after they tried to use them to get into college or get a job, according to the attorney general’s office.

The Education Department licenses all GED courses, Spitzer said. Those wishing to check on a course or school’s license or see if it has gotten consumer complaints can call the GED Customer Services line at 518-474-5906. The information can also be obtained by writing to New York State High School Equivalency Programs and GED Testing Unit, P.O. Box 7348, Albany, NY 12224.

To file a complaint against GE Career Center, call the attorney general’s office at 800-771-7755 or go online to www.oag.state.ny.us.

Reach reporter Kathianne Boniello by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 146.

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