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It turns out that the last stop on the FastTrain education is a federal prison for the founder. No, it's not for failure to put a space between Fast and Train, although that's criminal for a college name!
Last week, NPR reported that Alejandro Amor was sentenced to eight years in prison on fraud charges after his for-profit college in Miami, Florida was found to have obtained millions of dollars in federal funding based on false claims. The school enrolled ineligible students and hired strippers to work as recruiters, among other practices.
In 2012, FastTrain was shut down and now the founder's going to the clink. This was, reportedly, an extreme situation. But many of FastTrain's practices were unfortunately common among for-profit colleges, like using deceptive advertising and pressure tactics on students and taking money from the government for financial aid for ineligible students.
Alejandro Amor is so far the only for-profit college founder to face criminal charges and to be sentenced to prison for fraud. He blamed rogue employees for what happened, and three have already been convicted. But according to the judge, it was theft and Amor was in on it. The school collected $35 million, of which "millions" were found to be fraudulently obtained.
The problem of deceptive practices in the fort-profit college sector is prevalent, according to authorities. The Obama administration has targeted this type of crime and there are multi-agency collaborations focusing on stopping fraud. This year, the Federal Trade Commission and the Education Department announced a new enforcement task force to tackle the problem.
According to NPR, even the biggest and best-known for-profit colleges -- University of Phoenix, DeVry, and ITT -- are suspected of using deceptive advertising practices to sign students up. The companies deny the allegations and are cooperating with investigators, they say.
You'd think people would have suspected something was strange about FastTrain from the start, what with that name. Who wants an education from an institution so focused on speed, it has no time to pause between words?
It's true that we live in a fast paced society with shifting standards. But school is still one place where a minute to think should be considered a good thing.
If you, like the founder of FastTrain, find yourself in legal trouble, talk to a lawyer. Many criminal defense attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to discuss your case. Get help.
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