The following is a press release submitted to SOURCE from the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office.
BOSTON – Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey announced today, July 24, that Online Trading Academy (OTA) will provide $160,000 in relief and loan discharges to certain former students in order to resolve allegations of the school’s unfair and deceptive practices in its real estate investment programs.
Under the terms of an assurance of discontinuance filed in Suffolk Superior Court, OTA will pay $145,000 to the AG’s Office to provide relief to eligible students who enrolled in OTA’s real estate investment programs and will discharge approximately $15,000 in debts that certain students owe to the school. Individuals eligible for a refund or discharge will be contacted by the AG’s Office.
“This for-profit educational institution took advantage of students and misrepresented the effectiveness of its programs,” said AG Healey. “These impacted students will now receive monetary relief and discharges as a result of this settlement.”
This settlement resolves allegations that OTA misrepresented the nature, character, value, and scope of the capabilities of its real estate courses. The AG’s Office also alleges that OTA made similar misrepresentations regarding its “Deal Board,” OTA’s proprietary real estate investment dashboard. OTA marketed this dashboard as a tool providing access to potential investors and data on distressed, investment-worthy properties, despite the dashboard not satisfactorily providing these services. The AG’s Office also alleges that OTA violated consumer protection regulations by representing to prospective students that real estate programs were being offered for a reduced price for a limited time when they were not.
OTA provides in-person and online financial education and offers courses nationwide. While the primary focus of OTA’s programs is teaching stock market trading skills, several of its locations, including one in Massachusetts, offered programs that teach real estate investing skills.
Addressing fraud and abuse in the for-profit school and student lending industry has been a top priority for AG Healey since taking office, whether taking predatory schools to court, changing the practices of student loan servicers, going after unlawful student loan “debt relief” companies, or helping student borrowers find more affordable repayment solutions through her first-in-the-nation Student Loan Assistance Unit.
Massachusetts residents who need help are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Student Loan Assistance Unit at 1-888-830-6277.
The OTA case is being handled by Assistant Attorney General Lilia DuBois and Legal Analyst Amanda Hesse of Attorney General Healey’s Insurance and Financial Services Division.