On Thursday the Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, filed suit on behalf of several families across the country who were bilked out of thousands of dollars by Glenarm, IL “autism service dog trainer”, Lea Kaydus.
For Immediate Release Media Contact: Maura Possley
August 23, 2012 312-814-3118
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MADIGAN SUES ‘ANIMALS FOR AUSTISM’ CHARITY FOR FRAUD
Attorney General: Proposed Judgment to Require Downstate Woman to Reimburse Families Waiting for Service Dogs
Springfield – Attorney General Lisa Madigan today filed a lawsuit and a proposed consent judgment against a downstate woman who cheated families across the country out of thousands of dollars in payments for service dogs to assist children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Madigan filed her lawsuit in Sangamon County Circuit Court against Glenarm resident Lea Kaydus and her organization, Animals for Autism. The lawsuit alleges that for more than a year, Kaydus solicited donations and payments from families in Illinois and around the country to match them with specially trained dogs to serve as companions for their children. To date, Madigan said, none of the families who paid for the service has received a trained dog as promised by Kaydus.
Madigan’s lawsuit states that Kaydus’ Animals for Autism advertised it would specially train Alaskan Klee Kai and Siberian Huskies for $3,000 to $8,000 and then pair the dogs with families to assist their children who have Autism Spectrum Disorder. Kaydus promised families that they initially would be introduced to their dog in person or via teleconference calls and then would receive frequent updates until the dogs were trained and ready to be placed in families’ homes.
Families in Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Florida, California and Washington sent payments to Kaydus and were led to believe over the course of several months that Kaydus was training dogs to place in their homes. In some cases, families received pictures of puppies, though those images were taken years earlier and depicted dogs that weren’t involved in Kaydus’ supposed training program. One family received a photo of a puppy that was purportedly born in 2011, though Madigan’s investigation revealed the picture was actually taken in 2007.
Madigan said Kaydus has collected at least $5,190 from families in the scheme. The lawsuit alleges numerous violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and Solicitation for Charity Act against Kaydus and her organization. The proposed consent judgment filed with Madigan’s lawsuit would require that Kaydus provide restitution to affected families.
Assistant Attorney General Melodi Green handled this case for Madigan’s Consumer Fraud Bureau.
A copy of the suit filed can be found by clicking HERE if you are interested in reading it. To make a quick summary: the suit, filed in Sangamon County Court, alleges “numerous violations of the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act and Solicitation for Charity Act” against Lea Kaydus and her organization, Animals for Autism [a part of Siberian Snow Babies]. At this time Kaydus has agreed to a consent judgement requiring her to reimburse the families. However, the settlement must still be approved by the Sangamon County judge, who could still impose additional sanctions including stiff penalties of up to $50,000 per violation.
Since the initial press release issued by the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, there have been multiple news outlets which have carried this story. The story was initially carried as an exclusive update by WICS NewsChannel 20 Springfield, Illinois by Mike Brooks. It has since been featured in the Chicago Tribune in an article by Monica Eng, and in the Kitsap Sun in an article by Chris Henry. There have been several other blog posts written –
A win I suppose. I hope that she is not able to ever do this to anyone ever again. Wishful thinking?? Possibly.
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