American Scholarships (aka, American scholarship and Grant association)
I could not find anything on this business through google, the california state departments, or through reverse phone checks so I wanted to have something available to people to make their own judgments about this program. so here is the story...
I was first contacted with a postcard stating "it has been impossible to reach you" and to call back on the number to reserve you seat in a seminar. I called and got the basics on the so called "private" scholarships, then they allowed me to schedule. I scheduled for saturday May 16, 2009 at 3:00pm. They sent out an invitation two days later (I have never seen such a prompt reply), which stated that the date had to be changed (to wens may 13) because suddenly it is the "last" one.
So I byte, I attend at the time, and it is very professional (yet no other instructors or associates with est, credibility were there, just another guy who could barely speak english). She gave some information on how to apply for private scholarships and how businesses benefit from tax breaks for donations (this is true), then promised us a listing of different private sector scholarships (which she also gave).
She then presented her #2 option in which the company will take a profile of the student in question and the company will essentially do the leg work to see what these companies are looking for and give back a listing of the matched companies which fit the profile. In theory this does seem like a good and favorable option where lots of time and effort is spared not having to do the paperwork and getting information customized to your situation and background. To put it simply their were very few red flags to indicate that this was a scam, the lady even showed a copy of the business accreditation to a few people (yet only two people, and they seemed to be chosen very carefully) and then was stuffed away not to be glanced at again.
The offer was $199 for the initial "now" payment (plus shipping) and would jump to $249 if mailed by the date (plus an additional $35 to have the results in 10 days) along with a guarantee that the selection would yield scholarships (one major red flag, few reputable businesses would guarantee this). Their was also one other thing that is a bit shady, they then say that if mailed, it must be in by fri 15th (less than two days), which is a classic tele-scheme to get people to make impulsive decisions. When I asked about this she stated that "that is when we will do florida".
During the seminar I asked her how one would update the information with American Scholarships, in case if I had moved or got accepted or transferred to another school (she initially averted the question), then she later said that the search is only a one time thing and that everything is "complete" once the list is sent (so then how does one get their money back?). Of course this was not enough to discredit, so I began a search...
I searched through the california public records, google, reverse phone searched the numbers (below) and looked at rip-off reports and so on and so on...and this establishment (supposedly 22 years old) does not exist on any records that I have found. At this point I am still deciding whether to run the risk, but I am leaning more towards the "thanks, but no thanks", because their is just no way a longstanding business would not have a website, listing, traceable phone #, or not even show up on any dialogues!. here are two alternate numbers that showed up in Yorba Linda, and Temecula (stated address) California:
Yorba Linda, CA..................(714)-261-0564
Temecula, CA ............................ 1-951-551-2807 - This last number was texted to me off of a cellular phone in the area (why would a company use a cell phone? suspicious) reminding me to go two the hotel.
I too did also notice that the majority of people at the seminar were majority latin and african american, and that a few spoke in different languages.
I do warn that I have not pursued the methods that were suggested to me, and that although this business may be a scam, It is not entirely possible for me to confirm it myself, but I would agree that this business employs many questionable actions that are tall tale signs of another scholarship scam.
please check out: http://www.la.bbb.org/businessreport.aspx?companyid=93000073
Coconut Creek, Florida