Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Security Guard Jobs
Times are tough and jobs are hard to come by for many South Floridians, but the lure of a paycheck netting nothing but frustration for some security guard applicants and now the Miami-Dade state attorney's office is looking into it. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Larry Williams: "It is rough right now."
Larry Williams, a father of five, has been out of work since February.
Larry Williams: "For you to not know where your next dollar is coming from, yeah, it puts anybody in a tough situation."
Jerry Perl works as a landscaper, but tries to supplement his income with a second job at night.
Jerry Perl: "It is cutthroat, and you got to get out here and make a dollar however you can."
Emerald George is also looking for work.
Emerald George: "No one wants to stay where they are at, everyone wants to move up in life."
Three men, three job hunters, with one thing in common, they were all intrigued by the same ad for security guard positions. According to the online ad, the jobs were scattered from Fort Lauderdale to Doral paying $13 to $15 an hour and available immediately. Some even boasting benefits a 401k plan and dental coverage.
Carmel Cafiero: "What did you think when you first saw the ad for this security company?"
Emerald George: "It sounded great."
Emerald says he was told you'll get paid, but first you have to pay us $250 to train and be certified in things, like baton handcuffs and pepper spray.
Emerald George: "I ask him like five to 10 times, I ask him, is it guaranteed that after the training, do you get a job, and he said, 'Yeah.'"
Emerald put up the $250 and completed the training in March. He says the company promised to place him in a job within two weeks, it never happened.
Carmel Cafiero: "Where is the job?"
Emerald George: "There's no job there."
Jerry Perl: "Job, no job. There was no job at all!"
Jerry says he also paid for training and was also left hanging.
Jerry Perl: "I'll recover from the money, that's not the issue, it's people out there, that do not have a job, who laid there money out, to get a job, and then he promised and denied it."
Larry says all he has to show for his $250 training are some certificates.
Larry Williams: "I didn't just stand in the street and just put $250 in the wind, but that's the equivalent of what we did."
Bernardo Yepes: "Any time you are going to be promised a job, but you have to pay some money ahead of time, that's a red flag."
Bernardo Yepes is the vice-president of Amazon's protective services. He says the security guard industry, like so many others, has been hit hard by the recession and he doubts the availability of jobs listed in the online ads.
Bernardo Yepes: "I don't see it, not in this market."
The ads were from a company that once operated from this Downtown Miami office building. They are long gone. We tried to talk to the owner of the company, but his lawyer says he is in New Jersey and unavailable for comment.
Carmel Cafiero: "But that owner may not be able to escape talking to authorities. Dozens of people have complained to the Miami-Dade State Attorney's office saying they were mislead, and at this point prosecutors think there should be a police investigation."
And that would be up to the Miami Police Department, which says, so far, it has not opened an investigation because it has received no complaints.
The police department also says this appears to be a civil matter and it is up to the individuals to go after the company.
Jerry Perl: "I mean, people work for a living, how can you actually take money from a person when times are hard, that's really nasty."
And that leaves the people who paid for training and expecting jobs disappointed again.
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