Caribbean Immigrants Scammed

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. July 22, 2011: Several Caribbean immigrants pursuing nursing studies fell victim to a fraud perpetrated by a group of fake nursing schools in New York.

NY Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, said five schools, in Brooklyn, in Queens and on Long Island, defrauded students, including several in Jamaica, of US$6 million, by running a nursing program and providing sham certificates.

The schools include:
• International Language and Professional Network, Inc. (ILPN) located at 833-847 Flatbush Avenue, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn;
• VTEC-NY, Inc. a/k/a Life-VTEC, located at 212-47 Jamaica Avenue, Suite 200, Queens Village;
• Hope-VTEC a/k/a J. Allrich Productions, Inc., Hope Nursing Tutorial Services, and Tutorial Nursing Prep, located at 1057-1059 Hempstead Turnpike, Franklin Square;
• Helping Angels Foundation of America (HAFA) which operated at two locations: Brooklyn at 78 Saratoga Avenue, Brooklyn and 245-06 Jericho Turnpike, Suite LL05, Floral Park, Long Island; and
• Envision Review Center located at 1894 Flabush Avenue, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn.
Four of the schools, ILPN, HAFA, Life-VTEC and Hope-VTEC, collaborated with the National Academy nursing program in Jamaica to provide fraudulent certifications.

The Indictment charges the following individuals:
• Robinson Akenami, 36 of Woodhaven, owner and operator of HAFA;
• Jocelyn Allrich, 52 of Elmont, owner and operator of Hope-VTEC;
• Nadege Auguste, 36 of Brooklyn, owner and operator of Life-VTEC;
• Andre Castage, 54 of Brooklyn, an Administrator and Admissions Director at ILPN who spoke with students and told students that the school was accredited;
• Carline D’Haiti, 55 of Brooklyn, and Salavatrice Gaston, 56 of West Babylon, who operated Envision Review Center;
• Anthony Myers, an Administrator and the Admissions Director at ILPN, who also assured students that they would be eligible to take the NCLEX exam after attending ILPN;
• Rodye Paquiot, 43 of Plainsboro, New Jersey, an executive at ILPN who assured students that they would be eligible to take the NCLEX exam after attending ILPN;
• Carl Lee Sellers, the Administrator of Hope-VTEC who identified himself as the “second in command” and who told students that they would be eligible to sit for the NCLEX after they attended Hope-VTEC;
• Frantz Simeon, 55 of Freeport, owner and Executive Director of ILPN; and
• Jude Valles, who established the VTEC franchise, received payments for the students that attended the schools in New York, and provided false documents to the schools and students.

The schools were not authorized to operate nursing programs, to operate as branches of international institutions or to function as tutoring centres, the AG said.

In a series of early morning raids Thursday, eight individuals were arrested in New York for their participation in the nursing school scam, and a total of eleven were charged in the indictment. Each faces multiple counts of Grand Larceny in the 3rd Degree, a class D felony, Scheme to Defraud, a class E felony and other charges.

“These conspirators intentionally targeted people in pursuit of new opportunities, lining their pockets with others’ hard-earned money,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “This case sends a clear message to anyone looking to profit off of exploitation and fraud: you will be caught. My office has zero tolerance for such criminal conduct and will continue to hold those who commit it accountable.”

The Attorney General’s Office, in cooperation with the New York State Department of Education, conducted an investigation to reveal how the conspiracy operated. Undercover investigators were assigned to pose as students enrolled in the phony programs, and search warrants were executed. The investigation found a criminal network that spanned from New York to Jamaica, and included hundreds of victims who each paid thousands of dollars for useless courses.

According to the indictment and prosecutors’ statements at arraignment, the defendants conspired to create and operate entities that claimed to be nursing schools. The defendants recruited individuals – particularly of lower income – and falsely stated that completing the programs would make them eligible to take the New York State Nursing Board Exam (NCLEX), and become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Registered Nurses (RNs) in New York.

Those who enrolled were burdened by significant costs of anywhere between $7,000 and $20,000. They then spent between 10 months and two years completing the program, only to be issued fraudulent transcripts and certifications from various foreign schools – none of which were approved to operate in New York. Contrary to what they were told, the students who paid for and participated in the programs were not eligible to take the Nursing Board Exam or become LPNs or RNs.