Herring sues Richmond landlords, alleging fraud
Attorney General Mark R. Herring has filed a lawsuit against two Richmond-based landlords, JumpStart University and Vasilios Education Center, and the operator of both companies, Carl Vaughan, for allegedly defrauding tenants in the Richmond metropolitan area.
“When a landlord takes advantage of their tenants, especially when those tenants are low-income or even homeless, they must be held accountable for the harm they have caused,” Herring said. “Vaughan allegedly used his companies to take advantage of Virginians who were in tough financial situations – selling them a bill of goods that he would never be able to fulfill. I want to thank my Consumer Protection Section for their hard work on this case and my team and I remain committed to protecting tenants from deceptive and dishonest landlords.”
Herring’s complaint alleges that Vaughan, through both companies, solicited low-income tenants by promising “wraparound services,” such as credit counseling, education services, and assistance with obtaining employment, but ultimately failed to provide these services. Tenants, some of whom were formerly homeless, were told that they could “turn homelessness into homeownership in less than three years” through these programs and paid a premium to receive services promised by Vaughan and his companies.
Herring alleges that tenants were aggressively evicted, often based on inaccurate billing and payment records, using leases that contained terms that violate Virginia law. The complaint alleges that tenants were often living in extremely poor housing conditions with little understanding of who was responsible for maintenance because they had never been informed that their housing did not belong to Vaughan and his companies, but instead was being leased by Vaughan and sub-leased to them.
The lawsuit was filed in the City of Richmond Circuit Court.