Dodgy training provider fined $160,000 over fake job ads

Smartcompany   |   7 May 2015

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A dodgy Melbourne employment agency and unregistered training provider that advertised jobs that did not exist in order to lure potential employees into paying for training or internships with the company has been fined $166,000 in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

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Consumer Affairs Victoria took action against the now collapsed entity Keat Enterprises in the court last week, after it investigated several complaints last year over Keat Enterprises’ “bait and switch” tactics.

Keat Enterprises, which went into voluntary administration in June 2014 after the accusations reached the media, was found to have posted fake ads for graduate accountants and interns on Seek.com.au in order to lure applicants into its unaccredited in-house training.

At the end of the fake job interviews, applicants were instead marketed training courses for work in the accounting industry, at a cost of between $2000 and $3000.

The majority of the ads did not mention any extra costs and those that did mention fees referred to them as “software licensing and CPA mentoring costs”.

Consumer Affairs Victoria also found Keat Enterprises undertook very little accountancy work, and was not registered with the Tax Practitioners Board, as its main business was providing training services.

At the time of the investigation, Daniel Leong, chief executive of Keat Partners denied all allegations about his business to Fairfax, saying the claims seemed to have originated from “a few disgruntled ex-employees”.

But Keat Enterprises was last week convicted of 23 counts of engaging in misleading conduct in relation to employment, and 10 counts of making false and misleading representations about the supply of services, including making false representations that it was a tax agent.

Consumer Affairs Victoria’s acting director Phil D’Adamo said in a statement:

We are pleased that the court recognised the serious breaches committed by Keat Enterprises; this will serve as a reminder to other employment and training agencies that they will not get away with false and misleading conduct.

It is a very serious offence under the Australian Consumer Law to misrepresent the availability, nature, terms or conditions of employment. Taking advantage of vulnerable people seeking employment is a cowardly scam that robs victims of both hope and money.

See
Training provider fined $160,000 for misconduct
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