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FTC Shuts Down Scam Military Websites

September 7, 2018

The Federal Trade Commission has reached agreements to shut down several copycat military websites that targeted people looking to join the armed services and then used their personal information to market for-profit colleges, the commission announced Thursday.

The websites, which were operated by Alabama-based companies, used domain names like army.com, armyenlist.com, and air-force.com and appeared to be official recruiting pages. But the companies sold the information generated from the sites to colleges for $15 to $40 for each lead, the commission said in a complaint filed by the Department of Justice. Telemarketers who called to follow up on leads would continue to impersonate members of the military, the complaint said.

The FTC reached settlements against the operators of the sites, Sunkey Publishing Inc. and Fanmail.com, to relinquish the website domains. The orders also included civil penalties against both companies that are suspended because of inability to pay.

The orders are part of a larger effort at the commission to crack down on fraud targeting military consumers.

According to Veterans Education Success, an advocacy group that has been critical of for-profit colleges, the army.com homepage as of 2015 included a list of partner schools, among them: Ashford University, University of Phoenix, Berkeley College, Colorado Technical University, Le Cordon Bleu, Sanford Brown College, Virginia College and the now defunct Heald College and Westwood College.

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Andrew Kreighbaum

Andrew Kreighbaum joins Inside Higher Ed as our federal policy reporter. Andrew comes to us from The Investigative Reporting Workshop. He received his master's in data journalism at the University of Missouri, and has interned at USA Today and a national journalism institute in Columbia, MO. Before getting his master's, Andrew spent three years covering government and education at local papers in El Paso, McAllen and Laredo, Texas. He graduated in 2010 from the University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in history and was news editor at The Daily Texan.

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