Cuomo Seeks Jail Time For Long Island Man Who Continues To Defraud New Yorkers Through Fake Ged Courses And Degrees

MINEOLA, NY (February 4, 2009) – Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced his office is taking action to send a Long Island man to jail for continuing to exploit local residents through his fake GED home study courses.  Robert Collins of East Meadow has duped thousands of consumers into enrolling in his fraudulent course, even though multiple court orders had already mandated him to permanently close his business.  Cuomo is seeking restitution for the victims of this scheme and a 6-month jail sentence for Collins.

Collins, 68, runs two businesses – “Long Island Home Study” and “East End Home Study” – that falsely claim they can award genuine, state-authorized high school equivalency diplomas through an at-home General Education Development (GED) test.  Collins’ actions had been barred by multiple court orders and judgments since 2005, but he continues to sell fake GED diplomas. 

“This man has repeatedly preyed upon Long Island and New York City residents who are simply trying to better themselves and increase their career opportunities,” said Attorney General Cuomo.  “Any individual or business that takes advantage of unsuspecting consumers and blatantly ignores court orders will face the consequences.”

Education Commissioner Richard Mills said, “I applaud the Attorney General’s successful investigation and prosecution of this matter. Every year, the New York State High School Equivalency Diploma opens doors for tens of thousands of New Yorkers – doors that lead to employment, college, apprenticeships and other post-secondary training programs. It is important to remember that individuals can obtain a high school equivalency credential recognized by the State Education Department only by taking and passing the General Educational Development exam.”

Collins repeatedly promised consumers that they would receive diplomas “straight from the Education Department itself” and that the diplomas could be used “to get into any college in the United States.”  Many of the consumers who enrolled in Collins’ course were born outside the United States and were not familiar with the educational requirements for a GED.  They signed up for Collins’ course expecting to obtain diplomas that would help them gain admission to college or trade school.  Instead, they received nothing but worthless “certificates” stating that they had completed Collins’ course.

Under New York law, students can earn the New York State High School Equivalency Diploma only by taking and passing the official General Educational Development (GED) examination.  Any school offering a GED preparatory course must be licensed by the State Department of Education.  The test is free and given at centers that have been approved by the State Education Department and the GED Testing Service.  The term “GED” is sometimes confused with advertised “General Equivalency Diplomas,” but these other credentials, whether obtained through correspondence, on-line, or classroom instruction, are not New York State High School Equivalency Diplomas and are not recognized by the State Education Department.

Before investing in any program of study that offers a General Educational Diploma, consumers should first contact the New York State Department of Education at (518) 474-8940 to find out if the program’s credential is recognized.

Individuals with complaints against Robert Collins, Long Island Home Study, or East End Home Study are encouraged to contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Help Line at 800-771-7755.

This case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Victoria L. Safran, under the supervision of Assistant Attorney General-In-Charge of the Nassau Regional Office Valerie Singleton.  Senior Investigator Paul Matthews and Postal Inspector Eric Oram, of the United States Postal Inspection Service, assisted in the investigation.