Local businesses owner and employee each plead guilty to filing false tax returns after failing to report nearly $4 million in income
ATLANTA – Eric Powell and Ahmad McCormick, former owners and operators of National Vocation Group, who lured hundreds of job-seekers into paying for needless pre-employment certification training have been sentenced to federal prison for wire fraud.
“Powell and McCormick used their job-staffing company to dupe hundreds of victims into paying high fees for unnecessary training,” said U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. “The defendants further harmed their victims when they did not produce the jobs that were promised to them.
“Erick Powell and Ahmad McCormick deceived victims into believing they were applying for legitimate jobs that required certain Occupational Safety and Health Administration certifications when, in fact, they were not,” said Rafiq Ahmad, Special Agent in Charge, Atlanta Regional Office, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Inspector General. Powell and McCormick used phony online job postings to lure unsuspecting applicants into fraudulently paying their company for unnecessary OSHA training certifications. We will continue to work with OSHA and our law enforcement partners to investigate those who prey on legitimate job seekers.”
According to U.S. Attorney Pak, the charges, and other information presented in court: From August 2015 through October 2015, Powell and McCormick operated a fraudulent job-staffing company in Atlanta called National Vocation Group (NVG). Powell and McCormick used Indeed.com and ZipRecruiter.com to advertise available jobs in the housekeeping and maintenance industries that paid above-average wages. The advertisements falsely represented that NVG had existing contracts with commercial cleaning companies throughout the Atlanta area; that the jobs paid above-average wages of up to $17 per hour; and that NVG could place its clients in these high-paying jobs.
When NVG’s job applicants were interviewed by Powell, McCormick, and other employees of NVG, the applicants were told that they would have to pay $349 for certain Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training prior to being hired for the advertised jobs. The applicants were falsely told that federal law required housecleaning and maintenance workers to take the OSHA General Industries Course before starting work in the advertised jobs. Hundreds of applicants paid the $349 fee and took the OSHA course as required, but none of those applicants received the high-paying jobs they were promised.
Several victims notified law enforcement, while others notified local media outlets regarding NVG’s practices. NVG relocated its offices from downtown Atlanta to East Point, Georgia, where the defendants continued their fraudulent activities. The company eventually disbanded in mid-October 2015, although both McCormick and Powell continued operating other fraudulent job-staffing companies after NVG ceased operating.
Erick Powell, 30, of New Windsor, New York, was sentenced today to two years in prison to be followed by three years of supervised release. On December 11, 2017, after a four-day trial, a federal jury returned a verdict convicting Powell on one count of substantive wire fraud. The jury acquitted Powell on the other counts.
Ahmad McCormick, 32, of Brooklyn, New York, was sentenced to three years in prison, to be followed by three years of supervised release on July 2, 2018. McCormick pleaded guilty to wire fraud conspiracy on August 31, 2017.
This case was investigated by the U.S Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General. The East Point Police Department also provided assistance.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys John S. Ghose and Lynsey M. Barron prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.