Ashford University in Clinton, Iowa under investigation for Fraud
Recently, a student named Jess Etheridge contacted the police department in San Diego, CA to complain that he felt the Ashford University online school was misrepresenting itself to him in regards to location, name, federal code, etc. and pushed for him to allow them to get him in school with Stafford loans.
Stafford loans are basically loans that the student takes out but must pay back within a certain time period after they graduate from college. The interest rate is inflated and the graduating student is presented with hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial debt.
The US News & World Report has no articles on Ashford University except one entry which claims Ashford is one of the nations 2010's Best Colleges. The list for 2010 hasn't even been computated yet. It appears money will buy anything. Including, a feature entry in the US News World Report page.
One of Ashford's new students, Jess Etheridge, believes that a handful of employees are gaining money in the names of students for Stafford loans and setting them up on line with one course to start. "Then, they offered the books to me for free," he said.
It appears that once the student begins their coursework, the information is erased out of the system and they are left with a federal loan they cannot pay and they are no closer to a college degree. This high tech scam is the first of its kind, according to investigators.
The address for the San Diego Ashford University registrar's office is 13500 Evening Creek Dr., San Diego, CA 92128, reported ;to the student by enrollment advisors but Bridgepoint Education Corporation which Ashford affiliates themselves with is located at 13480 Evening Creek Drive North San Diego, CA 92138.
The police dispatcher in San Diego said on Sunday, April 25, 2010 "that street doesn't exist in her computer files."
If you or anyone that you know have information regarding Clinton, Iowa's Ashford University on-line, please call San Diego detectives at 619-531-2000.
Etheridge believes that the advisors are part of a unique scam to gain personal information, social security numbers and background information on students to replace their identity and rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.
The company has gone so far as to use another school graduating on-line to represent Ashford by digitally imposing the Ashford banner over the another schools identifying information. They have created a 49-page graduation booklet to make it seem legitimate.
"What school creates a book on the graduation ceremony for throwaway and to guide the guests at the graduationn that you have to print out yourself?" said Etheridge.
Investigations into newer type of identity and banking frauds will most certainly cause millions of on-line degrees to be monitored more closely and will also, stop unaccredited universities and colleges from scamming hopeful international students.
After investigation of Ashford and Bridgepoint Education, the company claiming affiliation with Ashford University, evidence shows that Bridgepoint is an affiliate of Universal in California which is not an education company, it is a music and movie corporation. It also, owns theme parks across the US. Yet, Bridgepoint has an SEC filing which puts it on the NASDAQ stock exchange.
The Iowa Attorney General has confirmed that there has been numerous complaints from students regarding the legitimacy of Ashford University. If you have any complaints and know of any financial crimes committed by this University please contact Steve Switzer, Investigating Officer of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection Division 1305 E. Walnut Street, Des Moines IA 50319, telephone number 515-281-5926 or 1-888-777-4590 Fax: 515-281-6771
In 2004, a Texas college, Trinity Southern University was accused of fraud. The article is highlighted below:
The Scam According to investigators, beginning in January 2004, the defendants transmitted more than 18,000 illegal e-mail messages to promote the sale of online academic degrees from Trinity Southern University. The website link that was included in the e-mails claimed that for a fee between $299 and $499 consumers can purchase a Bachelor�s, Master�s, Executive Master�s or Ph.D. degree in several fields including English, Business Administration and Biology. The complaint accuses the defendants of fraudulently claiming that Trinity Southern University: • Is a legitimate institution that can issue academic undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees in several majors. • Offers legitimate transcripts including a list of classes, grades and a final grade point average or GPA. • Is accredited by Recoleta University in Argentina when no such university exists. • Is privately accredited by NAPLAC.org when there is no organization by that name. In addition the address of the accreditation letter belongs to defendant Alton Scott Poe. • Will verify information provided by consumers to be used in the evaluation process to grant degrees or to recommend that consumers are eligible for more advanced degrees. • Will prosecute or revoke the degrees of those who withhold information or provide false information for admission and enrollment. Pappert said undercover agents contacted the defendants online