Complaint Review

US CAREER INSTITUTE

Report: #579381

Submitted:
Tue, March 09, 2010
Updated:
Wed, January 23, 2013
Reported By:
Rico
CHICO California U.S.A.
Name:
US CAREER INSTITUTE
Address:
2001 FORT COLLINS COLORADO FORT COLLINS, Colorado United States of America Phone:
1800-374-7899
Category:
Work at Home

US CAREER INSTITUTE WESTON DISTANCE LEARNING, MEDICAL CLAIMS AND BILLINGS FORT COLLINS, Colorado

*UPDATE EX-employee responds: USCI does not pay FICA taxes and is being sued for fraud

*General Comment: really rico?

*General Comment: Can't use software but still blames USCI

*General Comment: I would do your research first

*Consumer Comment: Who is this company?

*Consumer Comment: Who is this company?

*UPDATE Employee: Low Down Scam

*Consumer Comment: Low Down..Scam

*REBUTTAL Owner of company: Reply to 03-09-10 post by Rico (Chico, California)


i finished my medical claims and billing course at US CAREER INSTITUTE. after i paid the full amount i had my medical claims and certification finally it arrived on feb 19, 2010. so i will be able to work as medical biller at home after i received this useless software it was horrible and piece of junk! i didn't know include some web sites like collaboration compass integrity manager( relay health) i though it was work athome as medical biller nope it didnt work after i called the toll free number inquired if i going to get paid the lady told me no well i have  to processed the insurance form via EDI! i said what on that website it took 2 days before i figureout the password i emailed student services at us career institute they didn't respond to my email also the graduate student services didn't reply to my email now my dreams are shattered and ruin thanks to us career institute nows my bills are pilingup well if they are going to do a seminar in chico just to promote the goals of us career  institute.

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 03/09/2010 12:24 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/US-CAREER-INSTITUTE/FORT-COLLINS-Colorado-80525/US-CAREER-INSTITUTE-WESTON-DISTANCE-LEARNING-MEDICAL-CLAIMS-AND-BILLINGS-FORT-COLLINS-Co-579381. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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#1 UPDATE EX-employee responds

USCI does not pay FICA taxes and is being sued for fraud

AUTHOR: Cody Barker - ()

 This school misclassifies it's hourly employees as independent contractors to avoid paying payroll taxes and is being sued by the federal government for fraud http://www.heritagecollegedenver.com

 U.S. Career Institute/ Weston Distance Learning Fraud Case

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ex rel.
Chickoiyah Miller and Cathy Sillman,
Relators,
Plaintiff, Case No. ______

INTRODUCTION
1. This is a lawsuit against Weston Educational, Inc. for violation of Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, and the federal False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C.A. § 3729(a)-(b).

2. These claims involve the use of fraudulent practices and misrepresentations in violation of statutes and regulations governing participation in federal financial assistance programs.

THE PARTIES
3. Defendant Weston Educational, Inc. (“Heritage”) is a Colorado for-profit corporation doing business in Missouri under the fictional name Heritage College. It has campuses in Kansas City, Missouri, as well as in several other states, including Colorado, Florida, Arkansas, Virginia, Oklahoma and Kansas.

4. Relator Chickoiyah Miller (“Miller”) is a resident of Kansas City, Missouri. Ms. Miller was employed by Heritage College in Kansas City, Missouri, as an instructor in the X-Ray/Medical Technician Program from July 2007 until July 2009. In July 2009, Ms. Miller was promoted to Program Manager of the X-Ray/Medical Technician Program at Heritage College in Kansas City, Missouri.

After several years of employment with Heritage, Ms. Miller was forced to resign her employment in early January 2011 as a result of Heritage’s retaliation against Ms. Miller for her complaints about, and refusal to participate in, the unlawful practices described herein.

5. Relator Cathy Sillman (“Sillman”) is a resident of Kansas City, Kansas.Ms. Sillman was employed by Heritage College in Kansas City as Manager of Instructional Development from June 2010 through December 2010. In December 2010, Case 4:11-cv-00112-NKL Document 1 Filed 01/28/11
3 Ms. Sillman was terminated by Heritage in retaliation for her complaints about, and refusal to participate in, the unlawful practices described herein.

6. Relators bring this action on behalf of the United State of America. The United States Department of Education, an agency of the United States, administers the federal student financial aid programs contained in Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (“Title IV”), 20 U.S.C.A. §§ 1070 et seq. JURISDICTION AND VENUE

7. This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action under 28 U.S.C.A. § 1331 and 28 U.S.C.A. § 1345.

8. This Court has personal jurisdiction over the Defendant under 31 U.S.C.A. § 3732(a), which authorizes nationwide service of process and provides that an action under the False Claims Act “may be brought in any judicial district in which the defendant . . . can be found, resides, transacts business, or in which any act proscribed by section 3729 occurred.”

9. Venue is proper in this district because Defendant can be found in, resides in, and/or transacts business in this district and because some of the violations of 31 U.S.C.A. § 3729 described in this complaint occurred in this district. A summons as required by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure shall be issued by the appropriate district court and served at any place within or outside the United States.

BACKGROUND

10. The federal government provides financial aid to post-secondary students in the form of grants, loans, and other assistance under Title IV. To qualify for this aid, the institution and the program must be eligible. In addition, the student must demonstrate financial need.

11. In order to participate in Title IV student aid programs, an institution must meet the definition of an “institution of higher education,” which includes for-profit or “proprietary” schools. 20 U.S.C.A. §§ 1094(a), 1002(b). Pursuant to the statute’ s definition, the school must meet several requirements. It must (1) “provide[] an eligible program of training to prepare students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation” (or a liberal arts baccalaureate degree program), (2)
admit only high school graduates (or the equivalent), (3) be authorized to provide secondary instruction by the state in which it is located, and (4) be “accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or associate recognized by the Secretary[.]” 20 U.S.C.A. § 1002(b)(1).

12. As another prerequisite to participation in Title IV student aid programs, an institution must enter into a program participation agreement (“PPA”) with the Secretary of Education. By statute, the PPA conditions the initial and continuing eligibility of an institution to participate in a Title IV program upon compliance with several requirements. 20 U.S.C.A. § 1094(a).

13. Heritage sought and obtained eligibility to participate in a Title IV program, and entered into a PPA with the Secretary of the United States Department of Education. In the PPA, Heritage certified to the United States Department of Education certain criteria, including that it would comply with the statutes and regulations for institutional eligibility, as well as the provisions set forth in Part F of Title IV of the Higher Education Act and the Student Assistance General Provisions regulations set forth in 34 C.F.R Part 668.

14. In addition, in order to participate in a Title IV program Heritage had to certify to the United States Department of Education that it was approved by the appropriate state agencies to operate in the State of Missouri. 20 U.S.C.A. § 1094 (a)(21); 34 C.F.R. § 600.5(4). To be eligible for a certificate of approval for operation in Missouri, Heritage must meet certain criteria set forth in the Missouri statutes and regulations.

15. Heritage is accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (“ABHES”), a higher education accreditation organization recognized by the Secretary of Education. In order to participate in a Title IV program Heritage must meet the requirements established by ABHES. 20 U.S.C.A. § 1094(a)(21).

16. Heritage has engaged in a variety of acts which violate the Higher Education Act and its regulations, its PPA with the Secretary, and state law. It has knowingly made numerous false statements to the federal government, including those certifying its compliance with federal and state law. In addition, Heritage has engaged in a pattern of misrepresentation and concealment vis-à-vis ABHES in the course of obtaining and maintaining its accreditation status, which is a requirement of its participation in Title IV. Finally, Heritage continues to submit student financial aid application paperwork to the federal government – and receive Title IV funds for tuition– while knowingly engaging in a pattern of (a) manipulation of student records, (b) violations of the statutes and regulations pertaining to financial aid disbursements, use and refunds, and (c)
misappropriation of Title IV student financial aid funds.

17. All of these acts constitute violations of the False Claims Act, which provides that any person who “(A) knowingly presents, or causes to be presented, a false Case 4:11-cv-00112-NKL Document 1 Filed 01/28/11 6 or fraudulent claim for payment or approval,” or “(B) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to a false or
fraudulent claim,” or (C) conspires to commit such a violation is liable to the government for a civil penalty of $5,000 to $10,000 per violation plus treble damages. 31 U.S.C.A. § 3729(a).

18. Heritage’s false representations to the government that it was in compliance with federal statutes and regulations, state law, and the PPA, as well as its false representations that it is properly accredited by ABHES, all for purposes of receiving Title IV funds, violate the False Claims Act. See, e.g., U.S. ex rel. Hendow v. University of Phoenix, 461 F.3d 1166 (9th Cir. 2006) (False
Claims Act violation was properly based on allegations that school knowingly made false promises to comply with federal incentive compensation ban in order to be eligible to receive Title IV funds). HERITAGE’S VIOLATIONS OF FEDERAL AND STATE LAW Purposeful Enrollment of Unqualified Students In Order to Obtain Title IV Funds

19. The law requires that only qualified students, capable of benefiting from a course of instruction, be admitted to and attend proprietary schools. These requirements ensure that schools are not engaging in the unscrupulous practice of merely “selling” degrees or certificates to people who cannot benefit from this education, with the schools simply admitting and graduating “bodies” for the purpose of receiving Title IV funds from the public coffers.

20. To this end, under federal law proprietary schools may only admit students who have received a high school diploma or its equivalent. 20 U.S.C.A. § 1002(b) (1). Moreover, students are entitled to receive federal aid only if he or she “[m] aintains satisfactory progress in his or her course of study according to the institution’s published Case 4:11-cv-00112-NKL Document 1 Filed 01/28/11
7 standards of satisfactory progress that satisfy the provisions of § 668.16(e), and, if applicable, the provisions of § 668.34 [applicable to students enrolled in an program of study of more than two academic years].” 34 C.F.R. § 668.32(f). To ensure that students receiving federal aid are making satisfactory progress, schools are required to establish and apply “reasonable standards for
measuring whether an otherwise eligible student is maintaining satisfactory progress in his or her educational program.” 34 C.F.R. §668.16(e) (setting forth factors to be considered).

21. Missouri law also requires that only qualified students be admitted. In order to operate in Missouri, proprietary schools must establish and enforce “[s]atisfactory standards relating to attendance, progress, and conduct.” Mo. Stat. Ann. § 173.604.2(7). See also Mo. Stat. Ann. § 173.604.2(9) (“No earned certificate or degree may be given, awarded, or granted solely on the basis of payment of tuition or fee, credit earned at another school or schools, on the basis of credit for life experience or other equivalency, on the basis of testing out, on the basis of research and writing, or solely on the basis of any combination of these factors. No honorary degree may be given, awarded, or granted by any school which does not give, award, or grant an earned degree and no fee or other charge may be assessed for giving, awarding, or granting an honorary
degree[.]”). Regulations further specify that in order to operate a school in Missouri, a proprietary school requires “[a]dmission procedures and requirements which reasonably assure that the students admitted are capable of achieving and informed concerning the qualifications, competency levels, and/or proficiencies necessary to achieve the stated goals of the instruction offered . . . .” 6 Mo. C.S.R. § 10-5.010(5)(F)(1)(A).

22. Similarly, to achieve and maintain accreditation, ABHES requires that “[w]hen accepting students, reasonable assurances are made that applicant qualifications and background are compatible with institutional and curricular objectives to ensure the likelihood of student success,” and that applicants “can be reasonably expected to benefit from the training offered by the institution.” ABHES Accreditation Manual at p. 57.

23. Despite these requirements, Heritage knowingly enrolls and retains students who do not qualify for admission under these various standards, while falsely certifying to the government that it is in compliance with these standards.

24. For example, one student, L.B., was admitted to Heritage’s XRay/Medical Technician program even though he had no high school diploma or equivalent. Heritage knew at the time of admission that a high school diploma or equivalent for this student had not been verified.

25. Once L.B. was enrolled, Heritage altered certain records in order to keep him progressing through the program. For example, in one instance an administrator changed one of L.B.’s grades to a higher grade without the instructor’s knowledge, in order to help L.B. pass the course. L.B. was subsequently permitted to graduate even though he did not complete the X-Ray/Medical Technician program’s internship hour requirements. At the time of graduation, Heritage knew that a high school diploma or equivalent for this student still had not been verified, and knew that the student did not complete the internship requirements. The instructor objected to allowing L.B. to
graduate under these circumstances, but the administrators allowed him to graduate anyway. These acts were each done in an effort to obtain Title IV funds for his tuition.

26. In another instance, Heritage knowingly admitted a convicted felon, S.P., into the Personal Fitness Training program. At the time of admission, Heritage knew that S.P.’s felony record and prison time would make it difficult, if not impossible, for him to obtain employment in the field. Indeed, Heritage’s "Catalog" for the Kansas City campus dated May 1, 2010 states, under the
heading “Requirements for Admission”: “A criminal record will jeopardize a graduate’s eligibility for employment; therefore, Heritage does not accept applicants who have been convicted of a felony.” Nonetheless, Heritage admitted him and kept him in the program. On information and belief, Heritage improperly altered S.P.’s grades and/or made other arrangements to ensure that
he progressed through the program and completed the coursework. In addition, on information and belief, Heritage created a “fake” internship in order to permit this student to complete the program without actually completing the mandatory internship requirement. These acts were each done in an effort to obtain Title IV funds for his tuition.

27. In another instance, Heritage enrolled a student named C.S. in the Pharmacy Technician program, despite the fact that C.S. had a learning disability. Because of his learning disability, Heritage instructors were required to read the tests to C.S. and aid him in taking those tests. Further, C.S. could not complete the program internship requirements because no company would employ him due to his limited mental capacity and the high risk of malpractice. Heritage ultimately withdrew C.S. from the program prior to completion, but not before it was successful in obtaining the full amount of tuition money for the program. On information and belief, Heritage knew of this student’s learning disability and the probability that he would be unemployable in the  field at the time Heritage enrolled the student. These acts were each done in an effort toobtain Title IV funds for the student’s tuition.

28. In another, particularly egregious example, Heritage enrolled a student named C.C. in the X-ray/Medical Technician program, despite the fact that this student’s reading skills were at approximately a fourth-grade level. As a result, the student was not able to read the program tests. Numerous times, the student voiced his desire to withdraw from the program, yet Heritage refused to permit this student to withdraw. In order to conceal the student’s desire to withdraw, Heritage falsely documented his complaints and requests for withdrawal by entering information into its systems indicating only that the student wanted to “discuss options.”

29. The Heritage “Retention Coordinator” repeatedly contacted C.C. for purposes of intimidating him, and told him to remain enrolled because he was going to have to repay the student loan debt anyway. Heritage was finally forced to withdraw this student after he stopped attending classes and answering calls. Heritage’s conduct was carried out for purposes of obtaining Title IV funds for his tuition.

30. Finally, in one more egregious example of Heritage’s pattern and practice of admitting unqualified students to obtain tuition money, Heritage knowingly admitted a blind student, J.B., into the Therapeutic Massage program. On information and belief, because of his total blindness, J.B. will not be employable as a masseuse and Heritage knew this at the time J.B. was enrolled. Heritage’s conduct was carried out for purposes of obtaining Title IV funds for his tuition.

31. In addition to knowingly admitting students who are, at the time of admission, clearly unqualified to complete the coursework or obtain employment, Heritage also purposely retains students who cannot complete the coursework once they begin the program. In order to retain these students and receive their Title IV tuition funds, Heritage’s administrators will change students’ grades, in some cases without the instructor’s knowledge, so as to ensure that the
minimally required progress was being – falsely – documented.

32. In one example, Heritage enrolled a student named E.B. in the Therapeutic Massage program. In order to progress through the Therapeutic Massage program, a student must be able to learn and practice massage techniques on individuals. In this instance, however, E.B. had contracted MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) on her hands and arms. Because of this staph
infection, E.B. was not able to practice the massage techniques as required by the program. Nonetheless, Heritage continued to pass her through program courses. In or about late 2010, E.B. spoke to Relator Sillman and was extremely upset and worried that she would not be able to get a job upon graduation because she had no hands-on training in massage techniques, butwould be loaded with the debt from the financial aid she received to attend Heritage. Relator Sillman approached the Therapeutic Massage Program Manager about E.B.’s situation, but as of Ms. Sillman’s termination the issue had not been resolved.

33. These and other examples illustrate that Heritage admits and attempts to retain unqualified students for as long as possible in order to obtain Title IV funds to which the student and Heritage are not entitled. On information and belief, Heritage rarely drops a student from enrollment due to poor grades or performance in a program. Instead, Heritage manipulates and falsifies the student’s record in order to keep the student enrolled as long as possible. In order to conceal this fraud from the government, Heritage falsely represents to the government that it is properly accredited and in compliance with state and federal laws regarding student qualifications and progress. Falsification of Student Attendance Records

34. When a student withdraws from a school during an enrollment period, Title IV provides for when (and in what amount) the institution and/or the student must return the funds to the government. See 20 U.S.C.A. § 1091b. Notably, if the student has completed 60% of the payment period or period of enrollment before withdrawing, the statute provides that 100% of the grant or loan assistance will be considered to have been “earned,” and need not be refunded, regardless of
whether the student actually completes the remaining amount of the program. Id. See also 20 U.S.C.A. § 1094(a)(22) (PPA requires that the “institution will comply with the refund policy established pursuant to section 1091b”).

35. The statute specifies how to determine the date of a student’s withdrawal, which “for institutions required to take attendance, is determined by the institution fromsuch attendance records.” 20 U.S.C.A. § 1094(c)(1). See 34 C.F.R. § 668.22(b)(3)(i) (“An institution is required to take attendance if an outside entity (such as the institution’s accrediting agency or a State agency) has a requirement, as determined by the entity, that the institution take attendance.”). ABHES requires its schools to maintain attendance records for a minimum of three years. See ABHES Accreditation Manual p. 195.

36. Missouri law also contains requirements on refund policies, including compliance with applicable laws and regulations. See Mo. Stat. Ann. § 173.604.2 (6),(15); 6 Mo. C.S.R. § 10-5.010(5)(D)(4), (E)(3).


37. Heritage manipulates and falsifies student attendance records in order to obtain Title IV funds to which the student and Heritage are not entitled. In some situations, Heritage manipulates a withdrawn student’s attendance by making it appearthe student has completed 60% of the program and “earned” 100% of the available funds.Heritage does this in order to obtain the full amount of the student’s Title IV funds,despite the fact the student is no longer at the school and
actually withdrew prior to 60%completion of the course. Heritage refers to this practice as a student “ride out.”Heritage keeps the additional tuition funds, which were not actually “earned.” Oninformation and belief, this practice violates federal law.

38. In other situations, Heritage manipulates a current student’s attendance in order to allow the student to pass a course or to push the student further along in the program so that additional tuition funds may be obtained.

39. This practice of manipulating attendance records is discussed during meetings at Heritage. From July 2009 until her resignation in January 2011, Relator Miller regularly attended a weekly “retention” meeting, held on Thursday afternoons at 3:30 p.m. During these retention meetings, other Heritage employees often discussed the importance of attaining a 67% program completion figure for Title IV fund recipient students. Also discussed was the routine practice of the student “ride out”: adding attendance hours to the records of both current and former students.

40. Heritage’s manipulation of student attendance records results in a fraudulently inflated completion rate. See 34 C.F.R. § 668.8(d)(3), (e) (requiring “substantial completion rate of at least 70 percent” for FFEL and Direct Loan Programs); 34 C.F.R. § 668.45(a)(1) (“An institution annually must prepare the completion or graduation rate of its certificate or degree-seeking, first-time, full-
time undergraduate students, as provided in paragraph (b) of this section.”). More importantly, it allows Heritage to retain a larger percentage of Title IV funds – up to 100% once 60% program completion is achieved – for students who have withdrawn. It was expressly acknowledged at these weekly meetings that the goal was to “keep these students long enough to grab the entire amount of tuition” paid for by government funds.

41. In fact, Heritage employees are incentivized to keep students enrolled as long as possible and/or manipulate attendance records. The administrators receive bonuses when students complete 67% of a program. On information and belief, this incentive was established in order to increase the amount of students who would “earn” 100% of their Title IV loan funds, so that Heritage can then apply those funds to a student’s tuition, regardless of how much of the course was actually completed. In fact, Heritage awards a “traveling trophy” to the campus that has the best retention record in a given period.

42. By knowingly falsifying its students’ attendance records, Heritage is able to obtain Title IV funds to which it is not legally entitled. It conceals this fraud from the government by falsely representing to the government that it is in compliance with state and federal laws regarding refunds. It further perpetrates this fraud by misrepresenting to the government the true withdrawal dates for students, thereby maximizing the amount of Title IV funds it ultimately receives from the government for tuition payments. Every time Heritage submits a student
application for student financial aid to the government, it knows that it will obtain and apply as much of that financial aid as possible to its tuition, regardless of how much of the program the student actually completes, in violation of the federal laws and regulations governing disbursement, use and refunds of student financial aid. Payment of Commissions to Administrators

43. Title IV prohibits the payment of bonus payments contingent upon the success of securing financial aid. The statute requires eligible schools to agree in a PPA that “[t]he institution will not provide any commission, bonus, or other incentive payment based directly or indirectly on success in securing enrollments or financial aid to any persons or entities engaged in any student
recruiting or admission activities or in making decisions regarding the award of  student financial assistance . . . .” 20 U.S.C.A. § 1094(a)(20). See also 34 C.F.R. § 668.14(a)(22)(i).

44. As set forth above, in connection with the foregoing practice of altering students’ attendance and withdrawal records, administrators (including a “Retention Coordinator”) were given a commission bonus if they achieved a 67% program completion rate, thus ensuring the retention of Title IV funds even if the student subsequently withdrew.

45. Toward this end, meetings were held approximately every six (6) weeks at Heritage (on a Tuesday) in which financial aid office employees met with students who were having attendance problems or who expressed a desire to leave Heritage before reaching the 67% program completion point. Relator Miller was present at these meetings. At the meetings, Heritage administrators aggressively threatened and intimidated students, and boxes of tissues were
brought to these meetings specifically because students were often reduced to tears.

46. For example, at these retention meetings Heritage tells students who are still below the 67% program completion point that if the student does not continue the program Heritage will have to return the financial aid that was used to pay for the first part of the program, and the student will have to repay Heritage the tuition money out of the student’s own pocket. On information and belief, this threat to the students is false in that the student will actually have “earned” an
amount of the loan funds for the first part of the program that is equal to the percentage of the program that the student completed prior to withdraw. See 20 U.S.C.A. § 1091b(a)(3)(B)(i). On information and belief, this threat is made by Heritage to keep the students long enough for them to earn 100% of the funds, so that Heritage can keep the entire amount of available Title IV funds.
Denial of Students’ Access to Financial Aid Information and Misappropriation of Title IV Funds

47. Both federal and Missouri law requires that proprietary schools have a fair and equitable tuition refund policy, which must be made available to students. See 34 C.F.R. § 668.43(a)(2) (institution must make available to students “(2) Any refund policy with which the institution is required to comply for the return of unearned tuition and fees or other refundable portions of costs paid to the
institution”). The school must also make readily available to students the cost of attending the institution, including costs of tuition, supplies and any additional costs of a program. 34 C.F.R. § 668.43(a)(1). See also Mo. Stat. Ann. § 173.604.2 (“(5) The following shall be available in writing to each student: course outline, course objective, schedule of tuition, fees and other charges, cancellation and refund policy, appropriate financial aid information, regulations pertaining to
absence, student evaluation, and student conduct; (6) The school shall have a fair and equitable refund policy for the refund of the unused portion of tuition, fees, and other charges in the event that a student enrolled in the school fails to begin a course, withdraws, or is discontinued therefrom at any time prior to completion . . . .”).

48. In addition, in order to participate in any Title IV program the institution must administer the Title IV program in accordance with all statutory provisions of, or applicable to, Title IV and all applicable regulations prescribed under that statutory authority. See 34 C.F.R. § 688.16(a); 34 C.F.R. § 668.14(b)(1). The school agrees to use any funds it receives under any Title IV program solely for the purposes specified in and in accordance with that program. See 34 C.F.R. § 668.14(b)(1). The school further agrees that it will establish and maintain such administrative and fiscal procedures and records as may be necessary to ensure proper and efficient administration of funds. See 34 § C.F.R. § 668.14(b) (4). Finally, the school agrees that it will be liable for any improperly spent or unspent funds under Title IV. See 34 C.F.R. § 668.14(b)(25).

49. Despite these requirements, Heritage does not administer and use Title IV funds properly, and keeps student funds to which it is not entitled. Despite these requirements, Heritage does not provide students with accurate information regarding their tuition and financial aid account information. Rather, Heritage purposely conceals from students the truth regarding their respective financial aid information in order to conceal its misappropriation of student financial aid.

50. Relator Miller witnessed this practice. In order to prevent students from learning the truth regarding their financial aid information, Heritage forbids its instructors and program managers from discussing financial aid issues with students. In addition, Heritage’s Financial Aid office routinely obstructs students’ access to their student loan account information.

51. Heritage also purposely keeps student funds to which it is not entitled without the students’ knowledge. Specifically, students will often receive Title IV funds from the government in excess of the amount required to pay their program tuition. These additional funds are provided by the government to the student to pay for living expenses associated with the attendance of school, and
the student will ultimately be obligated to repay the amounts as part of his or her student loan. Rather than inform the students of these additional funds or provide these additional funds to students, Heritage keeps the funds for itself without authorization. This practice allows Heritage to improperly obtain several thousand extra dollars of Title IV funds per student.

52. Relator Miller has personal knowledge of this practice. Heritage’s financial aid officer told the program managers that if the students do not ask for this additional money, Heritage keeps it. Relator Miller’s aunt, N.M., was a former student at Heritage and was denied access to her financial aid account information. In addition, Heritage did not inform N.M. of the financial aid she was entitled to receive for living expenses during school. N.M. was only informed of these additional funds and provided a refund of these additional funds after Ms. Miller intervened and requested the information from Heritage. However, Heritage instructed N.M. not to tell anyone about the refund because they did not issue these additional amounts to most students.

53. Ms. Miller’s cousin, E.M., was also a former student at Heritage. On information and belief, E.M. is entitled to a refund of financial aid for living expenses from Heritage, but as of this date Heritage has not provided E.M. with either the refund or any information regarding the existence of the additional funds.

54. Heritage’s conduct in concealing from students information regarding financial aid funds, and misappropriation and misuse of those funds, is done knowingly for purposes of obtaining additional Title IV funds to which Heritage is not entitled. Falsification of Student Job Placement Records

55. Federal law, directly and through ABHES’s accreditation standards, requires the accurate reporting of job placement data and a job placement rate of at least 70%. See 20 U.S.C.A. § 1088(b)(2)(A) (“A program is an eligible program for purposes of part B of this subchapter [§§ 1071 et seq., Federal Family Education Loan Program, which includes federal PLUS loans] if it is a
program of at least 300 clock hours of instruction, but less than 600 clock hours of instruction, offered during a minimum of 10 weeks, that – (i) has a verified completion rate of at least 70 percent, as determined in accordance with the regulations of the Secretary; [and] (ii) has a verified placement rate of at least 70 percent, as determined in accordance with the regulations of the
Secretary . . . .”); 20 U.S.C.A. §§ 1092(a)(1)(R), 1094(a)(8) (schools required to provide accurate placement information to students); 34 C.F.R. § 668.8(e)(1) (“An  educational program that satisfies the requirements of paragraphs (d)(3)(i) through (iv) of this section [proprietary institutions eligible for FFEL and Direct Loan programs] qualifies as an eligible program only if -- (i) The program has a substantiated completion rate of at least 70 percent, as calculated under
paragraph (f) of this section; (ii) The program has a substantiated placement rate of at least 70 percent, as calculated under paragraph (g) of this section . . . .”); ABHES Accreditation Manual at p. 33 (“Failure to demonstrate at least 70 percent retention rate for each program, a 70 percent placement rate for each program, or a 70 percent pass rate on mandatory licensing and credentialing examinations using the formula provided by ABHES in the annual report, as well as meet the state mandated results for credentialing or licensure required for employment raises a question whether accreditation requirements are being met.”).

56. Despite the requirement that Heritage have a 70% placement rate for its graduates, Heritage does not have such a rate. To overcome this shortfall and maintain its accreditation and Title IV eligibility, Heritage routinely engages in falsifying records in order to misrepresent its placement rate to be over the minimum required.

57. For example, as to some graduates who have not obtained employment in the medical field, Heritage falsely reports that they have. Heritage has also itself hired graduates for clerical jobs (such as copy room work) or to work as so-called “teacher’s aides,” and records these hires as successful placements. This is contrary to federal regulations which require the calculation of placement rates with reference to the occupation for which students received training. See
34 C.F.R. § 668.8(g)(1)(ii) (placement rate must be calculated by “determin[ing] the number of students who, within 180 days of the day they received their degree, certificate, or other recognized educational credential, obtained gainful employment in the recognized occupation for which they were trained or in a related comparable recognized occupation and, on the date of this calculation, are employed, or have been employed, for at least 13 weeks following receipt of
the credential from the institution”).

58. Heritage’s administrators are incentivized to manipulate records in order to achieve the 70% placement mark. The Heritage Career Service Department receives bonuses for reaching the 70% placement mark, in violation of Title IV’s anti-commission rules discussed above.

59. Heritage submits these false placement records to ABHES on a quarterly basis in order to maintain its accreditation and Title IV eligibility. Falsifying Instructor Evaluation Records
60. Heritage has engaged in the wholesale spoliation and forgery of instructor evaluations in anticipation of a July 2011 site visit by ABHES. The site visit is part of ABHES’s process of renewing Heritage’s accreditation.

61. ABHES requires that faculty be evaluated by their supervisors, and that annual performance evaluations be maintained. ABHES Accreditation Manual  pp. 70- 71, 195. Heritage performs teacher evaluations for purposes of documenting, among other things, whether the instructors are following the curriculum and whether the instructors are actively engaging the students.

62. In or around late November 2010, Relator Miller and the program managers of the Pharmacy Technician, Esthetics and Personal Fitness Training programs were approached by an administrator at Heritage. The administrator told Ms. Miller and the other program managers that the previous three years of instructor evaluations had been “lost.” The administrator instructed the program
managers to complete a new evaluation form for each instructor in his or her program. Heritage further instructed the program managers to backdate the evaluations in order to create the impression that the evaluations were originals and to conceal the fact that the evaluations were false.


63. Following this discussion, the administrator emailed the program managers a list identifying the instructors Heritage said would need to have a new evaluation. Some of the evaluations that needed to be redone were three (3) and four (4) years old. The evaluations Relator Miller was asked to redo covered the time period of 2007 and 2008, when Miller was still only an instructor and did not have the responsibility or authority to observe and evaluate other instructors.
In at least two (2) instances, Relator Miller was instructed to create evaluation forms for instructors who were not even in her program and whose teaching and performance she had never observed.

64. When Relator Miller refused to create and sign the backdated evaluations, Heritage’s administrators created the false evaluations themselves and then forced the instructors to sign off on them.


65. On information and belief, the majority of the instructor evaluations currently on file at Heritage for the years 2007-2010 are forgeries that were recreated in November-December 2010 and backdated to appear they were created in the past. On information and belief, additional documents in the instructor files have been improperly altered by Heritage.

66. On information and belief, Heritage created these false instructor evaluations in order to submit them to ABHES in connection with the July 2011 site visit, while purposely withholding from ABHES the true nature of the documents. Employment of Unqualified Instructors

67. Under Missouri law, minimum standards for approving proprietary schools include that “[e]ducational and experience qualifications of . . . instructors are adequate for students to receive training consistent with the published objectives of the course or program of study[.]” Mo. Stat. Ann. § 173.604.2(1). See also 6 Mo. C.S.R. § 10-5.010(5)(C)(3).

68. ABHES also requires that proprietary schools employ only qualified instructors who “[h]old a current license, certification or other credential as required by local, state and/or federal laws to work in the field, with the exception of those teaching in non core (e.g., general education) courses.” ABHES Accreditation Manual at p. 71 (16th ed., available at http://www.abhes.
org/assets/uploads/files/2011-01- 054d24b5b09b4caAccreditation%20Manual%
2016th%20Edition.pdf).

69. Despite these requirements, Heritage has knowingly employed instructors who are not qualified under these various standards, and has falsely certified to the government that it has complied with these standards.


70. For instance, Pam Hence, an instructor in Heritage’s Esthetician program, does not possess the teaching license required in Missouri. See Mo. Stat. Ann. §§ 329.010 et seq. In order to conceal its employment of an unlicensed instructor in violation of Missouri law, Heritage’s records do not list Ms. Hence as an instructor in the Esthetician Program. Instead, on information and belief the
records reflect a different instructor in Ms. Hence’s place. Those records are false.

71. In another example, Heritage has forced instructor Heather Cunningham to teach a business math class at the Kansas City location. Ms. Cunningham has admitted she is not qualified to teach that course and, for that reason, asked that she not be made to teach the course. Upon information and belief, Heritage has threatened to take away Ms. Cunningham’s insurance and other benefits if she refuses to teach the business math class.

72. Heritage has thus employed unqualified instructors in violation of Missouri law and has falsely represented to the government that it is in compliance with laws, regulations and accreditation requirements regarding instructor qualifications. Heritage has made these false representations
knowingly in order to remain eligible to operate in the State of Missouri and eligible to receive Title IV funds for students’ tuition.CAUSE OF ACTION – VIOLATION OF 31 U.S.C.A. § 3729(a)

73. Relators incorporate by reference the foregoing allegations as if fully set forth herein.

74. By violating the above-enumerated provisions of Title IV, federal regulations, Missouri law, the PPA, and the accreditation requirements of ABHES, Heritage has misrepresented to the United States that it is in compliance with these provisions as required to receive Title IV funding.

75. Heritage made these misrepresentations knowingly and with the specific intent to deceive the government into paying millions of dollars of Title IV funds to Heritage and its students. Alternatively, it made these misrepresentations with actual knowledge of their falsity, in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the information, or in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the information. Its scienter is amply demonstrated by conduct such as falsifying records and
statements expressly acknowledging an attempt to obtain government funds to  which Heritage is not legally entitled. Heritage knows that it is not in compliance with the applicable laws and knows that it is therefore not eligible to participate in a Title IV program and receive the government funds it seeks.


76. The subject matter of Heritage’s false claims is material and a direct cause of the government’s decision to make these payments. The misrepresentations go to the heart of the government’s reason for providing financial assistance to needy students. Heritage’s certifications to the government have falsely claimed that it admits only qualified students who may benefit from a Heritage education, that it administers its Title IV program in accordance with applicable law and
uses Title IV funds solely for the purposes specified in the program, that it establishes and maintains procedures and records necessary to ensure proper administration of Title IV funds, that it employs qualified instructors, that its students achieve proper and satisfactory progress, that its students obtain sufficient attendance, graduation, and placement rates, that administrators
are not paid improper commissions, and that it complies with the law regarding financial aid set forth in Part F of Title IV of the Higher Education Act and the Student Assistance General Provisions regulations set forth in 34 C.F.R Part 668.

77. All of these misrepresentations and false certifications misled the government and induced it into paying thousands of dollars per student to an ineligible institution for an education the students are not being provided. These funds would not have been paid had the truth been known. As a result, the United States has sustained millions of dollars in damage in an amount to be
determined at trial.


78. Relators believe that these practices are widespread at Heritage’s various campuses, and that additional investigation will reveal additional improprieties, both at Heritage’s Kansas City campus and Heritage’s other campuses throughout the country.

NOTICE TO UNITED STATES

79. As required under the False Claims Act, 31 U.S.C.A. § 3730(b)(2), Relators, simultaneous with the filing of this Complaint in camera and under seal, have provided a copy of the complaint and written disclosure of substantially all material evidence and information the Relators possess.

JURY DEMAND

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#2 General Comment

really rico?

AUTHOR: nursingstudent51 - ()

I'm a current student at USCI, i do it on the side because im also enrolled in nursing school but wont be done for a while, and wanted to be able to do this quickly and get a decent job while i finish school.

so far ive had nothing but great things to say about the school, theyre very helpful and easy to reach. ive read plenty of reviews before just jumping into this.

i will say judging from the original poster's lack of knowledge of... basicly everything, the school is not to blame here. 

#1 usci only gives you a certificate of completion, thats not an actual degree or license you must follow your state guidelines to become licensed or certified in your field... however, you cant sit in for that exam without proper education which is where usci comes into play. so no they dont actually give u the certificare or license but without them you arent eligible to take the exam

#2 how you passed any classes is beyond me

#3 ive worked in the medical field, ive dealt with insurance and coding and its not really that hard but i feel like it would be quite a challenge for you. considering you couldnt even log in to something for 2 days and dont know how the software works...

and lastly.. how can you even think u were just going to get a cd pop it in and boom start your own billing business. it doesnt work that way. the school is by no means at fault for any of this, you should have done better research on the actual job and the field in general.

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#3 General Comment

Can't use software but still blames USCI

AUTHOR: kick811 - ()

I'm sorry, but I don't believe that US Career Institute should be blamed for technological incompetance... welcome to 2010'... If you lack the intelect to "Log-In" even after two days... you should not have passed the course work... also, I would suggest that the public would be better off if you are not handling the billing needs of the public.

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#4 General Comment

I would do your research first

AUTHOR: swiftrobb - ()

I know for a solid fact that to be a Medical Coder/Biller you have to get specialized training so that you can learn how to take the certification test (required in all states) and pass it before any company will hire you to work as one. Most companies don't like to hire students that didn't go to a traditional college, but some will hire students who graduate from online and business colleges, but only certain companies. You also want to make sure any school you go to is Regionally Accreditted, that is very important. I don't know much about Us Career Institute, but from the research I have done. I am not going to waste my time and money on it. I "real" school of any degree would offer job placement assistance. The certificates they offer are often better to go to your local community college to get, more of a promise of job placement. But hey, just my opinion.  

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#5 Consumer Comment

Who is this company?

AUTHOR: KSpeer - (United States of America)

I just got a collections letter stating it was coming from US Career Institutes and I have never even heard of them. I would never even take any of the programs they offered after looking them up as I have always wanted tobe a nurse and you can't do that through an at home program. Also there other programs I took in high school through a free program through my school so it would be pretty pointless for me to go through this "school" anyways. Are they even really accredited?
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#6 Consumer Comment

Who is this company?

AUTHOR: KSpeer - (United States of America)

I just got a collections letter stating it was coming from US Career Institutes and I have never even heard of them. I would never even take any of the programs they offered after looking them up as I have always wanted tobe a nurse and you can't do that through an at home program. Also there other programs I took in high school through a free program through my school so it would be pretty pointless for me to go through this "school" anyways. Are they even really accredited?
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#7 UPDATE Employee

Low Down Scam

AUTHOR: Joyce - (United States of America)

Dear Lakeisha Johnson,

Please contact USCI Student Services Supervisor to discuss your account status. You can call Mr. Bullinger at 1-800-347-7899, ext 4582. His hours our 7:00-3:30pm Mountain Standard Time, Monday - Friday.

Thank you.
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#8 Consumer Comment

Low Down..Scam

AUTHOR: Lakeisha - (U.S.A.)

I would just like to say that I applied to US Career Institute, my name is Lakeisha Johnson, and I enrolled in the Social Worker program. I actually didnt have a problem with the school or the work..I paid my $49 initial fee and my books and everything were sent to me. Unfortunately after having the material for about a month I decided that I couldnt do this at this time..I was laid off and I knew I wouldnt be able to keep up with my payments so, according to the refund policy I wrote an email and sent it to the school..never heard back from them yet but i did receive a bill in the mail for $1000. I would like to know how is this..I never sent in a test any work to be graded or anything..I know I did everything according to the refund guidelines and they are still trying to get $1000 from me. My question is for what..After reading the fine print for the refund, I totally am aware that if no work was handed in I am entitled to a refund. although, I wasnt looking for a refund because I had the material for atleast 3-4 wks. i just wanted to cancel the whole agreement and I am totally lost on why I am being billed.
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#9 REBUTTAL Owner of company

Reply to 03-09-10 post by Rico (Chico, California)

AUTHOR: Kevin white - (U.S.A.)

U.S. Career Institute (USCI) regrets that Rico is dissatisfied with our school, particularly with the billing software program included in his course. This software program is an industry-proved one that most grads find satisfactory; some use it to operate their independent billing businesses. With the software, USCI grads receive a start-up booklet to help them learn how to use it. They also have free access to start-up help provided by USCI staff. Ricos comments also indicate that he is dissatisfied with his employment results. Although USCI does not offer job placement, we do have a Graduate Services department that he could contact by phone or email. A graduate counselor will review Ricos career goals with him and help him chart his path to employment. As a starting point, the graduate counselor will refer Rico to the course-specific job-search information provided in Pack 5 of his materials.

Rico apparently had difficulty receiving an email response from USCIs Student Services and Graduate Services departments. This lack of company response is highly unusual; were sorry it happened. We hope that Rico will use the toll-free Graduate Services number and extension given to him by USCI. He can contact the department to receive the free assistance that he, as a graduate, is entitled to at any time in his search for a medical billing position.

General information on USCI: Its one of three established distance-education schools operated by Weston Distance Learning, Inc. Each Weston course and degree program is accredited through the nationally recognized Distance Education and Training Council in Washington, DC. Its state approval is issued by the Colorado Department of Educations Division of Private Occupational Schools. Each Weston course and degree program has been approved for GI Bill, VA and DANTES military education benefits. A 2009 survey of almost 10,000 students revealed that 98% of course-respondents were satisfied with their Weston studies and would recommend their course to a friend. For more information, visit http://www.westondistancelearning.com.

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