Job Scammers Pocket Thousands

Bill Kivi paid Haldane more than $6,000 for a job training course. Evening News, Lee Cowan CBS

Bernard Haldane & Associates calls itself the nation's "oldest and largest career management organization."

But according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, the way the company is doing business now is employing one of the oldest tricks in the book to do it.

"It is certainly fraudulent what they are doing to people and there are aspects of it that are absolutely a scam," says Madigan.

In a complaint filed this month, prosecutors charge the nationwide company lures job seekers by promising access to a "secret job market" via an "exclusive database" available only to those willing to pay thousands of dollars up front, reports CBS News Correspondent Lee Cowan.

But there's a problem.

"I could get on the Internet right now and show you that hidden job market,'' says Madigan.

Bill Kivi paid Haldane more than $6,000 for a job training course, and his password to that secret site. But in the end, he says he got little more than what he could have gotten at this state run employment office -- for free.

"It's like I took a bunch of money and walked over to the river and went like that, that's what I did," says Kivi, miming tossing money into the water.

Christine Stritzel trusted Haldane, too.

She paid $11,000 for her career advice, but says most of the jobs listed were ancient history.

"When I went out to their site, those jobs go back to the last century," says Stritzel.

But it wasn't only those supposedly "exclusive job listings" that lured potential clients. Prosecutor Madigan alleges Haldane also promised financial fortune, and even in such a tight job market, virtually guaranteed clients a dream job at a dream salary.

"They're giving people false hope, but what they're getting is a lot of people's money for it," says Madigan.

In a statement to CBS News, Haldane say it is "making changes to address these issues," launching what it calls a "client care program."

But the company still insists it has heard complaints from only "a small number of clients."

That doesn't explain why four other states besides Illinois have taken legal action against Haldane. Kansas, for example, ordered the company to issue refunds totaling $300,000.

"It's not worth it. Go to the library. Go on the internet," says Kivi.

That's how Kivi eventually found his job -- not through Haldane. His $6,000, he says, was wasted on a promise Haldane couldn't possibly keep.
  • Lauren Johnston

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