New York training school charged with issuing 20,000 fake safety certificates

Illustration by Denis Carrier/©GCR
Six people have been accused of running a construction safety training school in the US that issued certificates to some 20,000 students who did not undertake the 40 hours of training required to earn them.

The six, who were employed by Valor Security & Investigations between December 2019 and April 2023, are alleged to have issued cards in exchange for fees of between $300 and $600.

So far, 19 people, including a New York City Housing Authority foreman, have been charged with acting as conduits between Valor and its clients.

The company and four individuals have also been charged with the reckless endangerment of Ivan Frias, a construction worker who was killed after falling from the 15th floor of a New York site in 2022. It is thought that Mr Frias was not provided with fall protection training.

Some of those seeking certification are alleged to have received them within an hour of asking. In April 2023, a press release from the Manhattan district attorney’s office quoted a text message from Valor to a candidate saying a 40-hour certificate could be issued “tomorrow after 5pm”.

Valor is alleged to have claimed that safety training was completed in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania by the same trainers on the same day.

Those conducting training are alleged to have submitted fraudulent resumés to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in order to achieve teaching certificates.

It is further alleged that money paid for the courses was used by Valor’s president to buy multiple properties, a yacht, cars and jewellery.

Alvin Bragg, Manhattan’s district attorney, said: “In the construction industry, fraud can mean life or death – not only for the individuals working on the site, but for the general public that moves around them.

“We also allege that the death of one recipient, Ivan Frias, may have been prevented if not for the defendants’ reckless failure to train him.”

Jimmy Oddo, New York City’s department of buildings commissioner, added: “Building construction-related fatalities dropped to a nine-year-low in 2023, thanks in part to the city’s construction safety training requirements for workers on larger work sites.

“Construction safety training is helping to save lives, but the actions of these defendants could have undermined this progress in the interest of quick profits.”

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