Indian River County woman ran fake medical training school, police say
Police said an Indian River County woman ran a fake medical training school and defrauded more than three dozen students out of at least $93,000.
Michelle Wimes, 33, who also goes by Michelle Hudson, was arrested Tuesday for organized fraud over $50,000.
Police said Wimes owned and operated Grace Med Training, located in the 1400 block of Old Dixie Highway in Vero Beach.
According to Police Chief David Currey, the Vero Beach Police Department received complaints in July from numerous people who said they were deceived into enrolling in Wimes' "fraudulent medical training school."
The school offered medical training courses including CPR, home health aide, medical assistant, phlebotomy, certified nursing assistant, and practical nursing programs.
Currey said that when graduates went to take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, to get a nursing license, they were unable to because they did not attend an approved and accredited school.
"They completed the schooling. And to get your certification, to be certified by the state through the Department of Education, you have to take the NCLEX," Currey said. "When they went to take the test, they basically realized that the certification or the training they received was not legitimate."
Currey said the police department confirmed with the Florida Commission for Independent Education that neither Wimes nor Grace Med Training were licensed to provide any type of medical training.
All told, Currey said Wimes defrauded at least 37 victims out of $93,895.
Currey said "qualified instructors" taught at the school and are not facing any charges in the case.
"They were basically, for lack of better words, duped as well," Currey said.
The police chief added that Wimes was possibly attempting to open another fake medical training school in Port St. Lucie before she was arrested.
The police department is now working toward restitution to get the victims their money back.
"Unfortunately, sometimes easier said than done. But we're gonna try to do that for the victims," Currey said. "We've got every 37 victims, as far as what they paid for. Documents showing what they paid for."
Wimes turned herself in to authorities around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and bonded out of the Indian River County Jail about four hours later.
Currey said Wimes retained an attorney and has not commented to law enforcement.
"Meeting different people, helping different people. I love to help people," said Halima Dutse.
Dutse has spent the past eight years working as a certified nursing assistant at Cleveland Clinic and other home health agencies. She’s looking for more.
"I’m going for my practical nursing, then for my registered nursing," Dutse said.
To become a full-time nurse, she started classes this summer at Grace Med Training. But right away, Dutse sensed something was wrong.
"With nursing in general, whether it's practical nursing or registered nursing, you have to have a certain number of clinical hours and classroom hours," Dutse said.
Dutse felt the instructor, Hudson, was cutting corners. Then a friend alerted her that Hudson wasn’t who she seemed. Dutse started digging, contacting several state agencies about her instructor.
"She never was a nurse. She was a CNA, but her license was invalid," Dutse said.
So Dutse confronted Hudson.
"I said, these people are telling me you’re not legally licensed to teach. You’re not a registered nurse. And as I’m telling her this, she’s laughing in my face," Dutse said.
Dutse then went to Vero Beach police, who just wrapped up a three-month investigation into Grace Med, shuttered now with faded lettering out front.
"Made all those women believe they were going to become nurses and take their boards. A whole graduation, a whole ceremony, just for it to be a fraud," Dutse said.
As for Dutse, she’s taking an entrance exam for another school this week.
"God willing get into the program, wipe this situation out," Dutse said.
Dutse said she bailed from Grace Med after two weeks, down $850. But others who went through the entire program invested five to six times as much.
Anyone who thinks they may have been a victim of Grace Med Training should contact Det. Kyle Eder at 772 978-4665 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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