From the Los Angeles Times comes a story of a retailer and their representative “school” who is now facing charges over a shoplifting tuition scam.
According to the lawsuit filed, a company called Corrective Education Company (CEC) was hired by retail establishments to go after people after they claimed that these individuals were guilty of shoplifting in their retail establishments.
This is how it would work. A shopper might be stopped on their way out the door by a security guard at one of these participating stores. Typically, they would be accused by the guard for shoplifting something small; even less than 10 dollars. Then, they would be taken into the back room, scared into admitting to shoplifting the items, and then let go.
Soon, the person would receive a letter from CEC, claiming that they needed to enroll into a six-hour “life skills” course at a cost of $500, or else they would receive this final warning: “Contact us immediately to prevent the filing of a criminal complaint”. According to the suit, their actions amounted to nothing more than extortion and false imprisonment.
Now, the tables are being turned. According to the lawsuit (here) CEC makes “threats and false and misleading statements to people detained by private security guards in the back room of a store, to induce them to sign unlawful and unconscionable contracts confessing to crimes.”
In response to the lawsuit, CEC claims that its “pre-complaint educational program” is legal and wholly consistent with California’s statutorily authorized pretrial diversion programs. In response to the charges in the suit, “In fact, it is nothing of the sort,” the complaint says.
According to the pleadings in the lawsuit, CEC pays security companies and retailers amounts that range from $10 to sometimes greater than $100 per enrollee if they enroll in this “course”.
“This payment structure creates a powerful incentive to pressure people to enroll in CEC, regardless of the evidence, if any, of their guilt,” the suit says. They rely on the improper pressure of possible criminal charges, when in fact criminal charges are not a possibility but merely allegedly extortion.
CEC Chief Executive Office Brian Ashton denies the charges in the lawsuit and told the Los Angeles Times reporter in a statement that the lawsuit is without merit and is “factually incorrect.”
CEC claims it will fight the lawsuit. To me, this sounds like a very curious tuition charge!
And for pic o’ day, this is a repeat but this “responsibility” makes me laugh: