Saturday, August 18, 2012

Massage Online Professor - Buyer Beware

Three days ago I had the misfortune to learn about the school Massage Online Professor run by Karen Zaharatos. Lets note that up until this time I had never heard of the school, or Karen  Zaharatos , but since this I have learned way more than I ever wanted too. A dear friend of mine had signed up and paid for some of their courses. The online format worked well for her because she is a single mother who is also taking care of her parents who were injured in an accident. She has been trying to continue on with massage therapy for a long time but life and finances had kept her from fulfilling that dream. That is until she learned of Massage Online Professor which seemed like the perfect solution, she could do the classes at home log in to take the tests, and it was within her price range.

Now that would have been all well and good except that three days ago my friend went to log in and take the test. Now she had logged in once before but found that the test included more than just the one classes curriculum that she had finished studying and so as she explained she decided to wait to take the test til she had finished all the courses she had purchased. Being that she is a single mother with a whole lot of stuff on her plate including injuries from an accident she was in keeping her from being able to sit and study for long periods of time, this took her a few months. Now as I understand it she was told she had a year and so she wasn't that worried.


She then tried to log in three days ago and found that she couldn't, she had been locked out. So of course she sent them emails trying to rectify the situation and get things sorted out so that she could take the tests and finish things. Now Massage Online Professor gave her a story about how they have been dealing with "cyber-stalkers" and so had changed passwords, but when she tried she was told was needed to log-in it didn't work and so she had to keep corresponding with them. This apparently made them label her a cyber-stalker as well.  

This was the time I heard about it because needing to get her frustrations out she posted her frustrations on her Facebook wall. Now this is a friend who I have never ever heard say a mean word or do a cruel action to anyone. Even in her frustration she didn't bash or bad-talk the school just posted her frustrations, her desperation at the thought of being out a lot of money as well as having to redo the classes all over again at a new school. I could understand that feeling and being that I feel protective of my friends I went to look at Massage Online Professor's Facebook page hoping that maybe I could send her a letter vouching for her or maybe help out in some way and clicked "like" so I could see the wall. That was when I saw that they had posted her personal information, name, address, phone number, etc  on the wall along with an accusation that she was a stalker from "the NCBTMB." Now if this had been information that was readily available from her Facebook that is one thing but as my friend explained that information wasn't available to the public and was from her admissions information. That right there was a huge red flag because that is so unprofessional not to mention illegal. Any business that feels it is ok to post clients personal info like that should be investigated in my opinion. 

Let me emphasize that my friend did not attack these people, nor did she throw accusations at them, in fact she was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt and instead was being way nicer than I might have been if I had been her. She was expressing frustration over these supposed cyber stalkers for creating such a situation that would make this company not trust her now. Then when they started attacking her personally and posting her personal information, and saying on their page that she is a harasser and a stalker she just tried to defend herself and get to a resolution to the problem. 

Then things just got weird, they kept posting extremely weird messages on their Facebook wall which really made me question the company because half of them were incoherent and the other half sounded like paranoid babbling. I also saw that my friend had had two friends try to stand up for her in her defense and their information was posted as well including IP's that they had written emails from. They also took the time to say that while my friend was writing to try get the log-in situation fixed that their software shows that she was also taking (and passing) the test in question.... except that she was never able to even get to the test because of their paranoia. That is when I started to google more about the company because things were seeming very fishy. What I found is numerous places where an account under the name Massage Online Professional or variation of the owner Karen Zaharatos attacking others and bullying anyone who dares to speak up about things they have done declaring them part of some conspiracy against them. I also found a story that sounded eerily similar to what my friend was going through along with multiple blog posts on the Massage Online Professors own blog ranting on and on about this so called conspiracy. They also show numerous stories of how they have pulled this same sort of thing on other customers. Revoking access to their accounts, locking them out of what they have paid for, and then accusing them of being part of some nefarious scheme all because they made a mistake or didn't log in at the times MOP thought they should. Then they post about them on their website, sharing private business communications, and personal info and publicly brand them as some sort of cyber terrorists. 

The link above has two names at the top of their list which they declare 
We are finding an underground syndicate of professional harassers who seem to be attached to the NCBTMB and cyberharassing and cyberstalking Massage online Professor. We learned they are even making bogus complaints to other approval agencies purposely to harm Massage online Professor for being ethical and honest to fellow massage therapists and informing them of their massage laws.
We at Massage online Professor treat all our students with respect and kindness but after the tenth redundant email ignoring questions and simple instructions will have an effect on a business and their attitude. The following list below are people who refused to say if they have any association with the NCBTMB after asking each one at least six times.
These names are the two who tried to defend my friend and help her out and they have now been named as being professional harassers, and all they did was try writing to this business to help their friend. I can assure you they weren't asked if they were associated with the NCBTMB "at least six times." I was also named publicly on their Facebook page numerous times as being part of this underground syndicate and yet all I had done was like their page to see what was going on and help my friend somehow. Let me state that I did like their page 3 separate times, because I would be told about another thing that was said and when I would go on the page to see for myself I would notice that the like button was there again, I have had Facebook pages glitch on me like that before where the like wouldn't "stick" ad I would have to "re-like" it. I figured this was another one of those cases. I later found out that they had been deleting my like... however they didn't block me from the page ... maybe they don't know how? Yet that was all it took for them to publicly name me as part of this supposed cyber terrorism ring... they never contacted me other than to throw my name around on their Facebook page.  

This is defamation/libel and it is not at all cool. What Massage Online Professor is, is a cyber bully they have shown that through their actions. They claim to care about their students but they don't hesitate to treat innocent people like complete scum and they are profiting from this because they have instilled a no refund policy that hurts trusting customers like my friend. They throw around accusations with an air of insane paranoia, and you know what I am sorry if they HAVE actually dealt with some drama in regards to their statements about the NCBTMB (which until that day I had never even heard of before) but their paranoia now has made them become a toxic and very dangerous company especially when innocent students who are just trying to make something of their lives are getting caught in the crossfire.

Part of me wonders if there is even that much drama from the NCBTMB, could it all be the ramblings of a paranoid person? Or could it be that they have realized that with the non-refund policy they have in place that this actually profits them, to create such a web of accusations and conspiracy so that they can take a persons money without the person putting up to much of a fight?

I really can't say, I don't know either way, I just know that from what I have seen and experienced this company doesn't hesitate to toss accusations at and label innocent people with libelous statements in a public forum. They also show on their own blog how they mistreat and play games with their customers, but all I can speak of for sure is what I have seen and experienced. So I want to warn people away from doing business with the company 
Massage Online Professor because they haven't seemed to hesitate in taking peoples money and then block them access, and should anything go wrong they have stooped so low as to post private personal information about people publicly, lied, and defamation/libel isn't past them either. If you are thinking of getting involved with them I beg of you to do your research, and think about instead going through a different school with a more professional business manner that you can be guaranteed you won't be wasting your money, or your time and hard work. I really do want to save anyone else from going through this kind of thing. Which is why I write this post today. 

Edited to Add: Now two days later I was informed that they have now taken to filling their Facebook page with private personal communications that their students have written them. They are also posting the results of these students tests and other information that should, if they were any kind of reputable company, be kept confidential. It is scary to me to see what they are doing, even scarier when I know one of the innocent parties who were on the receiving end of their unprofessional behavior, and it saddens me to see them do this to more and more people. I don't know if they can be stopped because honestly they are still profiting from this because of their supposed no-refund policy and so they can screw anyone they want over. So it seems the only thing that can be done is to get the word out to potential students.

26 comments:

  1. I found your blog post by Googling "Massage Online Professor complaints". My husband experienced the same treatment from this woman Karen Zaharatos. Your blog says everything we were thinking! Kudos for trying to stick up for your friend. Hopefully it won't be long until the poop hits the paddle and she'll be shut down. Am I being unethical by blowing the whistle on a whistle blower? ;) Does this make me a member of the underground syndicate??? Oy, these poor unsuspecting people...see what happens when you try to save a few bucks?

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  2. She did the same to me! Only it was after I took some of her courses, and then after a few emails of her accusing me of crazy things, and me telling her over and over that I had no clue what she was talking about, she started writing about me publicly. (I ended up calling the NCBTMB to get the full story and complaining.) She still occassionally sends me emails.

    They're are other, way more respectful online companies out there that you can get your CEUs at a good price. Don't waste your time and energy wading through this mess.

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    1. I had the same experience word for word.

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  3. I am so glad you guys found this and know that you are not alone. I have been seeing this company put up peoples personal information on a DAILY BASIS on the Facebook page and honestly it scares me and makes me feel bad for everyone going through this.

    Now I really know nothing abut the NCBTMB and really don't know the full story only what I have managed to gather from the incoherent babbling from Massage Online Professor. Ffrom what I have seen the NCBTMB has handled themselves in a quite dignified and respectable manner, you don't see them posting the kind of stuff that Massage Online Professor is or throwing around accusations. Seeing how Massage Online Professor accuses EVERYONE of being part of some kind of underground network of people sent to harass them when I know for a fact that has not been the case for many of the people who are innocently trying to get their stuff done. Then they find themselves locked out and getting accusations thrown at them. Not cool!

    Now I see them admitting that they will change their policies and not inform their customers/clients and claim that it is the customers responsibility to find out if policies have or will change.... What the... that makes no sense. Could that even be legal... I don't see how it could be!

    Anyway what is true in all of this is that this company is far from professional, what they do borders on illegal, and the word needs to get out about them so other people won't have to go through this. I am sorry that you guys have had to go through this!

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  4. I had the same thing happen to me today with them. I had used them before and everything was fine and them bam! She slammed me on her facebook.

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  5. Their Better Business Bureau rating is now "F".
    http://www.bbb.org/south-east-florida/business-reviews/massage-therapy-services-and-supplies/massage-on-line-professor-in-coral-springs-fl-26004348

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  6. I too bought a CEU program and I was informed I had a year, 6 months into it I found thime to log in and I was told bt a very rude Massage Online Professor owner Karen Zaharatos that if my CEUs were important to me I should have taken them sooner. I was under the impression that if you pay for something it is yours? In fact the laws are changing for gift certificates where if a client pays for them they can redeem them when ever, you are no longer allowed to present an expiration date. So why doesn't it work the same for CEU courses? I will Never buy from them again. Integrative institute welcomes you and the you get what you pay for regardless of how long it may take you to get your programs completed.

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  7. Thank you all, I was about to try to use her again. I barely made my CEU's due to the fact she did not turn in the paper work to the states for the courses they had already approved. I ruled it out as she was just new to the online think and gave her the benefit of the doubt. The state I live in advised me to call them regaurdless of what websites say they do and do not approve. Appartently this is a common problem!

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  8. Their site seems to just redirect to a godaddy parked page. Perhaps they've disappeared?

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    1. I think she's been removed from the NCBTMB provider list. In my state the Massage Board placed her on a list of non providers because her program had been revoked by NCBTMB and or other sources.

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  9. If this company is posting people's private information on facebook, hasn't anyone filed a police report?

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  10. You are not alone. Add one more scammed customer here. The same thing happened to me including the posting of my name and accusations of being an undercover operative spy for the NCBTMB Same story 'you should have taken them sooner. And "I know you are an undercover operative" I saw what she was doing to other people on Facebook and on her website and cut my losses. Luckily I am not a single mom or a student so was able to absorb the financial loss. (It was alot of classes).
    I have been informed by my state massage board that there were dozens if not more scammed by her. There was supposed to be criminal action against her, but the local law enforcement won't accept complaints from out of state massage boards or associations. I don't think anyone wants to hassle with traveling to Florida to file a personal complaint with either the police department or the massage licensing board. The good news is she lost her paypal account and the website is now offline. But be careful-internet scammers have a way of popping up in new places.

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  11. I haven't been able to access my course either! I started to take the test earlier this year, but had to delay finishing it due to my schedule. I knew I had a year to complete it so I put it on the back burner until I had time. Over the holidays I tried to get on to finish and the site would not come up, now i know why! Wow!

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  12. I too had a bad experience with this company. So this has been going on for quite some time! My experience was from about6 or 7 years ago. I had purchased the courses after becoming injured and wanting to keep my ceu's up to stay updated. I purchased the entire course figuring i too had a year. She (Karen) claimed to be in the middle of moving everytime I called or emailed about issues logging in or missing books. She insisted I recieved everything I needed. I tried logging in and it would not let me. I was then told the program changed and I needed to pay MORE money on top of the (if I remember right ) $1,000.00 or so I had already spent. I was pleasant and patient at first,it was HER that began showing nasty unproffesional behavior. Needless to say,I never got a thing from all of that. The books lay in a box useless to me! My hooes were ruined as well. Because of the money I spent on the courses I didn't have money to spend on legitimate courses and licensing. : ( so much for all the hard work! I hope others have a better experience in the future...but i would highly advise they look someplace else for education.

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  13. I got screwed by Massage Online Professor too. Anyone check out the site mansfieldfc.com? Looks very similar to Massage Online Professor. Im looking into seeing if these are the same people then we know who to sue!

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  14. While that site does look eerily similar to Massage Online Professor, it is run by someone out of California and not Florida where Karen runs MOP. That site also links to a new site which doesn't resemble MOP's site at all, and I haven't been able to find any of the incoherent rambling and such that you can easily find with Karen and Massage Online Professor. That being said it is always wise to do extra homework before signing up with any kind of online schooling doing things like googling "[name of school] reviews" or "[name of school] complaints" and if anything seems abnormal listen to that little voice and try find a better place.

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  15. Hi. I thought I'd let you know that while I was looking at the approved courses for my state lic, I saw MOP's ceu offering. When I tried to go to the site to get more information and possibly buy the course, it kept taking me to the ncbtmb's site which I thought was weird. That's how I stumbled upon your blog and the BBB's F rating. I've posted a warning to my local massage therapist fb page about this. Thank you for taking the time to blog about it. You've helped many therapists.

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  16. FYI,

    Karen got me for 3 courses. I had taken online courses from MOP in the past without difficulty. So, I didn't hesitate to register for a 3 course package which included an Ethics course. I took the Ethics exam, but I guess she wouldn't have filed those 2 ceus. I am out hundreds of dollars.

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  17. Really odd. I have taken her online courses twice in 4 years and never had a problem.
    I think this is some personal vendetta esp, since all of these posts are by anonymous replyers.
    Why are allthese posts anonymous ????

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    1. Funny you should post as anonymous as well. Her CEU's are not acceptable in my state and I couldn't find her listed on NCBTMB. She tried to mess with me and I wouldn't let her even after all her threats. Not a person I would deal with again.

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  18. Lol, that question might actually hold some validity if you yourself weren't posting as anonymous so umm... why are you anonymous??

    Being that Karen Zaharatos and Massage Online Professor have a history of harassing people who speak up including posting personal information about them and stalking them online until they are forced to delete what they have posted. That is precisely the reason that I have allowed them to post anonymously so they can have a safe space to share their experiences. There are numerous other people who have contacted me privately to share their stories (some which are heartbreaking to hear) and get the contact information for the person handling legal preceding against them but who would rather not be on the blog. I respect that because I have seen and also been the recipient of the threats and having my personal information along with lies about me spewed across the internet, I won't let that happen here on my own blog. You are very lucky that you haven't run into problems but just because you haven't doesn't invalidate all the numerous people who have been outright ripped off and then harassed by her, being that her site is now down, her better business score is a complete fail shows that you are in the minority here.

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  19. Luckily I didn't have any problem with inability to take my course or anything like that. The fun I had with Karen Z had to do with giving her a less-than-stellar rating in the reviews of the course. Somehow being lectured to save my money didn't seem to have anything to do with sports massage, but she corrected me on that. Additionally, I specifically addressed that having questions reviewing the course included in the exam didn't seem appropriate. I actually wondered if responding negatively would lead to a "wrong" answer. I still don't know if that was the case or not, though after reading this I rather think it did.

    I certainly didn't expect to receive aggressive emails just because I didn't rave about her. But again, she showed me the error of my ways. Which obviously only improved my view of her professionalism. I actually heavily debated to go NCBTMB about her accreditation with them, even at the risk that I would be out all that money and time. Now I regret that I didn't.

    I wonder if I was thrown under the bus on facebook. I never thought to look.

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  20. I took one course from K Zaharatos of Massage Online Professor. Once was enough. I won't go into detail about how I came to communicate with her. However, at one point she threatened to turn me in if I didn't stop bugging her. I had already paid the money. It had only been a few days after that I attempted to log on and couldn't. So of course I needed to communicate with her. Then the threats began. Finished the course. There were two tests. Both I had to take twice. The second had questions about her. Part of the test was to rate her. Did that mean I wouldn't pass if I didn't give her a stellar rating? Since I didn't want to deal with her anymore, I gave her a "passing" rating. And I passed. My state massage board voted unanimous to not allow her CEU's. I believe she isn't listed on NCBTMB provider list anymore.

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  21. Howdy! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading your posts. Thanks a lot!
    learn massage online

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  22. This lady is nuts. Stay away from her. She ripped me off too and sent me nasty emails after I contacted her and said her computer site was not allowing me to take tests. She is so deranged that instead of fixing her site and refunding money, she opted to post personal information from people who wanted a refund. I believe the sheriff's department in Florida was investigating her the last I had heard. I thought she was out of business and I am shocked people are still trying to take her courses as late as 2012. I would be very surprised if she is still licensed by the state of Florida to even practice massage. I believe she held a license.

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  23. This is a very smart scamming lunatic.

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