Action by Eleven States and the CFPB Follows Groundbreaking SBPC Investigation, Seeks Relief for Defrauded Students
July 13, 2023 | Washington, D.C. — Today, 11 states and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) filed a complaint in federal bankruptcy court against the tech sales bootcamp Prehired, seeking relief for students harmed by the company’s predatory lending and debt collection.
The action is in response to allegations that Prehired and its founder Joshua Jordan used a startling range of lies to lure students into a scam training program that locked them into tens of thousands of dollars in predatory shadow student debt through Income Share Agreements (ISAs). It seeks relief from the court, including an order declaring the ISAs void and unenforceable, enjoining the company from continuing operations, and directing full restitution to all students.
The action also alleges that Prehired took brazen steps to try to collect on these illegitimate debts, including by trying to turn Delaware courts into their personal debt collection machine and by attempting to lock harmed borrowers into shady back-room arbitration instead of allowing them to have their day in court. This is the second time that the federal agency has affirmed that ISAs are student loans.
The Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) first investigated and called attention to these abuses of state courts in early 2022, after connecting with Prehired students.
In response to this action, SBPC Fellow Ben Kaufman, who led SBPC’s investigation into Prehired as the SBPC’s former Director of Research and Investigations, released the following statement:
“Today’s action is a major milestone in the fight to deliver justice to students defrauded by scam bootcamps. For too long, fly-by-night scammers like Joshua Jordan have been allowed to leverage the language of innovation and lies about job pathways to rip off low-income people and people of color. These fraudsters’ tools—including ISAs—may seem newfangled, but their fraud is neither novel nor clever. We are relieved that law enforcement is finally taking action to hold at least one of the many predatory actors driving consumer harm across the bootcamp market accountable. For Prehired students, today’s action is an important step, but we urge the states and the CFPB to vigorously pursue this case until complete relief is granted.
“As we said when Washington State first brought its nation-leading lawsuit against Prehired in 2022, this particular bootcamp is less an outlier than an emblem of the predatory lawlessness that pervades the space. Law enforcement at the state and federal levels should and must continue to chase down the untold number of scam bootcamps still out there, deliver relief to the countless borrowers already stuck in predatory loans and create a safer environment for individuals trying to increase their education and training. With tens of thousands of students now trapped in tens of millions of dollars of predatory ISAs taken on under fraudulent pretenses, inaction by consumer protection officials is not an option.”
Prehired ultimately declared bankruptcy in 2022, soon after it was sued on similar grounds by the state of Washington. Today’s action was filed as an adversary proceeding, the equivalent of a lawsuit in federal bankruptcy court.
In February 2022, the SBPC first broke the story of Prehired’s abusive loan practices after being contacted by former Prehired students. The SBPC worked with these former students to investigate Prehired, its executives, and its financing partners—sharing evidence of a wide range of illegal practices with federal and state consumer protection officials.
Today’s actions are the culmination of “at least 16” independent federal and state investigations into Prehired’s abuses, led by Delaware Attorney General Kathy Jennings, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
SBPC blog post first warning about Prehired: https://bit.ly/SBPC-prehired-expose
Fact sheet documenting Prehired’s abuses: https://protectborrowers.org/Prehired-Fact-Sheet
Press release from the California Department of Financial Protection & Innovation: https://dfpi.ca.gov/2023/07/13/dfpi-joins-cfpb-multiple-states-in-action-against-prehired-for-illegal-student-lending-practices/
About Student Borrower Protection Center
The Student Borrower Protection Center (SBPC) is a nonprofit organization focused on alleviating the burden of student debt for millions of Americans. The SBPC engages in advocacy, policymaking, and litigation strategy to rein in industry abuses, protect borrowers’ rights, and advance economic opportunity for the next generation of students.