Alleged Diploma Mills Settle FTC Charges of Misleading Consumers with Fake Diplomas

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The operators of two online “high schools” have agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges that they misled tens of thousands of consumers by falsely claiming to be accredited schools while actually being alleged diploma mills that sold worthless fake diplomas, according to a press release on the FTC website.

The settlements resolve FTC charges against two alleged diploma mills – Capitol Network Distance Learning Programs and Stepping Stonez Development, LLC – that used names like Capitol High School, Aberdeen Academy, West Madison Falls High School, Columbia Northern High School, and Heritage Western High School.

Under the settlements, the alleged diploma mills are also banned from marketing or selling any academic degree or certification programs, or making misrepresentations about any product or service, including claims about the performance of any product or service, the use of testimonials, and accreditations or endorsements.

The FTC alleges that the alleged diploma mills deceptively claimed their online “high schools” were accredited, and that their diplomas would be accepted by employers, colleges, and the armed forces. FTC alleges that in both cases, consumers who attempted to use these diplomas found that their diplomas were not accepted.

The complaints named Capitol Network Distance Learning Programs, LLC, Capital Network Digital Licensing Programs, LLC, Veritas Sales, Inc., and their principals Nicholas Pollicino, Anthony Clavien, and Adam Pollicino, and Stepping Stonez Development, LLC, Intentional Growth, LLC, and their principal Stephen Remley.

The FTC settlements against the alleged diploma mills impose a $9.5 million judgment against Capitol Network and Nicholas Pollicino, a $1 million against Veritas Sales, Clavien, and Adam Pollicino, and an $8.6 million judgement against Stepping Stonez, Intentional Growth, and Remley, according to the FTC press release.

The FTC’s Diploma Mills webpage contains information for consumers on how to spot fake diploma mills and other resources for consumers trying to improve their education credentials. The FTC press release is at www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2017/02/operators-online-high-schools-settle-ftc-charges-they-misled-tens.

How to Avoid Diploma Mills

Attorney Lester Rosen, founder and CEO of Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual,’  wrote an article about education verifications to explain how employers can avoid being tricked by a diploma mills at www.esrcheck.com/Articles/The-Basics-of-Education-Verifications/188/.

NOTE: Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) does not provide or offer legal services or legal advice of any kind or nature. Any information on this website is for educational purposes only.

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