Consumer Affairs Victoria is making enquiries into a Melbourne-based holding company, Keat Enterprises, and its related accounting firm, Keat Partners, after being contacted by four consumers concerned about misleading business practices this year.
The watchdog is investigating allegations that Keat Partners advertised jobs that did not exist in order to lure potential employees into paying for training or internships with the company, reports Fairfax Media.
Former Keat Partners employees told Fairfax the company used a “bait and switch” system to lure prospective training clients by posting fake accountant graduate positions on Seek.com.au to advertise its unaccredited in-house training.
When job candidates attended the interview they were instead offered the opportunity to participate in an internship or training, which would cost them more than $3000.
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A slew of commenters have since taken to the consumer review site Pissed Consumer this afternoon and accused Keat of “scamming” students.
One commenter said they were an ex-employee of Keat and claimed all existing staff had been made redundant as of Tuesday morning.
Daniel Leong, chief executive of Keat Partners according to his LinkedIn profile, has denied all allegations about his business to Fairfax, saying they seemed to have originated from “a few disgruntled ex-employees”.
“They have a grudge against the firm and are acting maliciously,” he said. Leong also said many of those Keat had trained went on to get jobs in the accounting industry.
Fairfax reports Leong has threatened legal action against the publication.
SmartCompany attempted to reach Leong, whose LinkedIn account also lists his mobile phone number, but has not received comment prior to publication.
The head office phone number for Keat Partners is currently unmanned.
Keat Enterprises also lists a modelling agency and academy, Keat Management, under its umbrella.
Dr Claire Noone, director Consumer Affairs Victoria, said in a statement that consumers should be extremely cautious when dealing with any company that places a job advertisement but then asks you to pay money to pursue the offer of work.
“It is an offence under the Australian Consumer Law to misrepresent the availability, nature, terms or conditions of employment.
“Taking advantage of those seeking employment is one of the most cowardly scams, robbing victims of both hope and money they so desperately need. Consumer Affairs Victoria urges anyone who believes that they have been taken advantage of by an employment scam to contact us so further action may be taken.”