SEATTLE — Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing a South Carolina-based company of offering a predatory training program to scam Washington citizens into paying as much as $30,000 for online video courses.
Ferguson said in a lawsuit Prehired LLC told prospective clients, "We guarantee you land a $60k+ job offer (from a tech company YOU choose)." The lawsuit, filed in King County Superior Court, called Prehired's marketing claims deceptive, proven to be a lie and illegal.
There is evidence of at least 39 Washingtonians in contract with Prehired, with the group owing the company upwards of $1 million, according to the Attorney General's Office. The exact number of citizens involved in the alleged scam is not known at the time.
“Washingtonians forked over tens of thousands of dollars in hard-earned money based on [Prehired CEO] Joshua Jordan’s lies,” Ferguson said. “I intend to make sure Jordan and his company do not prey on anyone else. I will fight to see his victims paid back and help get them out from under these illegal contracts.”
Prehired, operating online since May 2017 as a “tech sales bootcamp," offers online software sales training that lasts six to 12 weeks along with access to internal mentors helping them find employment, according to the lawsuit.
Instead, Ferguson said the course consists of 15 hours of videos from Jordan, teaching people how to begin a "six-figure career." In the videos, Jordan said his program-prepared students, including people with a high school diploma or GED and no sales experience, could land jobs with a starting salary of at least $69,000, but Ferguson disputed the claims. The starting salary is reflective of industry standards for software sa
les but not of Prehired's ability to get a larger salary for anyone, Ferguson said.
Prehired said 90% of its students find employment, without mentioning the clients have to apply to 20 or more jobs a week or risk voiding the job guarantee, the lawsuit said. Ferguson said the 90% figure does not include students who left the program early or were removed, keeping Prehired's "percentage critically high."
Ferguson said if students did not adhere to a "Code of Conduct," including not disparaging the company and returning communications from the company within two business days, they could be removed from Prehired's program and still be charged full price.
The company is accused of luring its students into paying between $5,000 and $15,000 for training and membership upfront or agreeing to an "Income Sharing Agreement" to pay up to $30,000 for as many as eight years if they have a job. The income agreement charged students at a rate of 12.5% of their gross income, according to the lawsuit.
The Attorney General's Office believes most people financed up to $30,000 over eight years.
The company's contract allegedly required students who left the course after a week of training to still pay up to $30,000, regardless of employment prospects.
Ferguson claimed in the lawsuit Prehired’s restrictive cancellation policy violated state laws requiring vocational schools to follow a uniform refund policy.
After accruing massive debt from the program, Prehired was accused of using aggressive collection techniques, including lawsuits and forced arbitration, to get the money from clients.
Prehired's owner sued nearly 300 students across the country trying to collect millions owed, before attempting to force people into private arbitration.
Ferguson's office sent the company a cease and desist letter to stop collecting debt from Washingtonians, but it said Jordan has not "satisfactorily" responded to the letter.
In the lawsuit, Ferguson claimed Jordan violated the state Consumer Protection Act by using deceptive advertising and deceptive collection practices. The attorney general said Prehired broke the law by operating in Washington state without a license, making any contracts for payment unenforceable.
The Attorney General's Office filed a preliminary injunction seeking to immediately stop Jordan and Prehired from operating in Washington during the lawsuit.
The Consumer Protection Act allows the Attorney General to seek up to $7,500 for every violation, in addition to restitution, costs, fees and civil penalties.
A spokesperson for Prehired said the company disputes the accusations.
"Prehired and Mr. Jordan are shocked and surprised by the filing of the complaint by the Washington Attorney General's Office, and the allegations contained therein. We categorically deny the allegations in the complaint and look forward to defending these allegations in court," a spokesperson said.
The Attorney General's Office asked people that paid for online training courses with Prehired to file a complaint here.