Consumer Notes

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Florida Ends Emissions Tests

Florida motorists no longer have to spend $19 per car per year to have their vehicles checked for excessive emissions. Governor Jeb Bush and the Florida legislature agreed to kill the requirement for annual vehicle emissions testing which had been in place in six Florida counties. The move will also save Florida taxpayers $52 million a year.

The state dropped the testing because all of the counties had achieved attainment with federal Clean Air Act standards, and the amount of pollution produced by vehicle emissions was judged to have a negligible effect on air quality. In the last year of inspections, only 6% of vehicles failed, and that number would have continued to fall because automakers continue to make cleaner-running cars. (See article at page 10.)

Kansas Closes Fake Colleges

Kansas courts issued a default judgment against two universities that had neither staff, nor faculty, nor accreditation, nor any real authority to award valid degrees, reports the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).

The allegedly phony universities, Monticello University and Thomas Jefferson University, were run by Leslie Edwin Snell, who was required to pay restitution to consumers. Snell was also enjoined from the unauthorized practice of law, conferring or awarding degrees, offering or conducting courses related to the conferring of degrees, and marketing merchandise to Kansas consumers.

The state's Attorney General alleged that the degrees offered by Snell failed to meet the minimum requirements established by the Kansas Board of Regents to confer such degrees, that the school's courses were taught by persons with no specialized training or qualifications in the subject matter of the course, that the entire enterprise was operated by Snell and a small number of associates, and that the defendants were accredited by an entity established by the defendants for the sole purpose of allowing them to claim accreditation.

Ponzi Schemes Still Around

Two Maryland men were convicted of conspiracy and stock fraud in running an elaborate Ponzi Scheme. Edward Pereira and Jeffrey Goodman sold "interests" in two investment "accounts," reports NAAG.

The first account was called the "Fifteen Per Cent Account" and was supposed to guarantee a return of 15% by being invested in valuable coin collections. The second account was called the "Stock Account" and was supposed to be used to buy stocks, particularly initial public offerings. …