New York Attorney General Letitia James today announced another court victory against fraudulent post-graduate basketball program AAUCONNECT, which has been ordered to pay an additional $40,000 to seven families that were defrauded by the company. This announcement follows a 2020 court decision that required the program’s owners to issue refunds to former customers and banned them from owning or operating any high school program and post-graduate high school basketball. An investigation by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) found that AAUCONNECT had advertised itself as a premier basketball training program and collected tuition money, but failed to provide the training, housing, and education promised. Today’s supplemental judgment brings the total amount of victim restitution to $279,040, on top of $135,000 secured in civil penalties.
“AAUCONNECT thought that their scheme to cheat families was a slam dunk, but my office called foul, and today seven more families will be added to the restitution judgment,” said Attorney General James. “No student should see their education, training, and future sidelined because of greedy fraudsters. New Yorkers can trust that my office will always use a full-court press to stop fraudsters trying to game them and protect them from harm.”
The OAG first filed a lawsuit in September 2018 alleging that AAUCONNECT, Chris Bevin, and Hazel Ward advertised unverified claims that their program was the top post-graduate basketball program in the northeast with “the very best coaching, training & educational facilities and college placement service.” AAUCONNECT claimed to offer athletes from around the world the opportunity to participate in a 10-month New York International Academy High School or six-month post-graduate program. Consumers also reported that Bevin and Ward, who held the roles of CEO and Admissions Counselor for the company, were absentee owners that lived outside of the United States and were never present to supervise the program or address problems that arose.
AAUCONNECT failed to clearly disclose to consumers that any payments are non-refundable or that they charged significant fees for late payments. Additionally, they failed to pay refunds after consumers left the program due to Bevin and Ward not providing the advertised services and accommodations. Today’s restitution order addressed claims made by seven additional families who sent their sons to participate in AAUCONNECT’s fraudulent program. The order directs refunds for the money given to the program for tuition, housing, as well as reimbursement for transportation expenses.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General-in-Charge of the Binghamton Regional Office Michael J. Danaher, Jr. with the assistance of former Investigator Stephanie Gerwel, Investigators Kathleen Coppersmith and Erin Dirado, and under the supervision of Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs Jill Faber and First Deputy Attorney General Jennifer Levy.
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