Driving lesson

Parents accuse London, Ont. driving school to take their money and disappear

Some parents in London, Ont. are raising alarm bells after a local driving school failed to provide certification for 30 hours of online driving lessons and failed to show up for in-person prepaid lessons.

CBC News spoke to two parents who said they found London Driving School by searching online for driving lessons in the city. They both enrolled their teenagers in classes in August 2021.

“He now has to start from scratch,” said Lina Contreras, who paid $645 for her son’s online and in-person classes by sending an advance electronic transfer to an email on the school’s webpage. ‘school.

She says her son was able to take a 20-hour online beginners driving course, followed by 10 hours of various questions and quizzes, using a link provided. The driving school said the course materials had been approved by the province, which parents later discovered did not mean it was certifiable.

Contreras said she didn’t realize there was a problem until her son tried to book the promised 10 hours of driving lessons.

“The office had closed. There was no one to talk to. The phones were off and the website was gone,” says Contreras.

She says when she went to the London Driving School’s listed address at Cherryhill Mall, she was greeted by security guards who said no one had entered the office for months.

The school owner responds

Dorothy Amaral also lost hundreds of dollars after enrolling her son in driving lessons at London Driving School. They also never materialized.

She says she read on the website that the school was formerly known as “WesternDrivers.com” and confused it with Western Driving Academy, a legitimate school where another of her children took lessons.

Security officers say the Cherryhill Mall location for WesternDrivers.com has not been visited by its owner Adam Khan since late last year. (Angela McInnes)

“It’s very upsetting,” Amaral said. “They have all these people’s money in their hands, and it’s heartbreaking that people can walk away doing this.”

The Better Business Bureau lists Adam Khan as Principal of London Driving School. CBC News contacted him by email and he responded on Tuesday.

“I am in Afghanistan,” Khan wrote. “I came to take my family members out of Afghanistan, unfortunately I was arrested by the Taliban.”

He says he does not have access to his bank accounts but promises to reimburse people who have not taken training if they send him their bank details.

Both parents said they would be extremely hesitant to tell Khan these details after what happened.

‘Do your research’

Meanwhile, the Contreras family is paying more for car insurance because the driver training program, which lowers rates, is incomplete. If she wants that to change, she will have to pay in full for another class.

She is considering legal action against Khan, but says he has not provided an official invoice for the transferred funds. She also says the police did not follow up after she called their general number to report the missing money.

The London Police Service told CBC News there were no criminal charges associated with Khan. He could not say he had received any complaints related to the individual or his business.

“It’s really important to do your research first,” said Sue Labine, call center supervisor for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s Intake Unit.

She advised consumers to check company reviews and know how to recognize a fraudulent website. Red flags are a lack of basic information like company name and phone number. Constant misspellings also signal that something is wrong.

If the company contacts immediately and asks for money before providing services, Labine said it’s wise not to send the money right away.

“Take your time,” she said. “If the offer seems to be so much cheaper than others, a good question to ask is why is it so cheap? If it’s too good to be true, then it’s probably a scam.”

Besides losing money, Contreras said she was very disappointed that her son’s efforts came to nothing.

“He spent all those hours getting all those online lessons he needed, and now he’s so disappointed and has to start all over again with another driving school.”