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school sued for fraud

Postby carreypunkrawker » Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:11 pm

Online university that gave cat diploma sued for fraud
By: MARK SCOLFORO (Tue, Dec/07/2004)

HARRISBURG, Pa. - An online university that supposedly granted a graduate degree in business to a pet cat was sued Monday for consumer fraud by the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office.

Trinity Southern University in Texas, a cellular company and the two brothers who ran them are accused of misappropriating Internet addresses of the state Senate and more than 60 Pennsylvania businesses to sell bogus academic degrees and prescription drugs by spam e-mail, according to the lawsuit.

Investigators paid $299 for a bachelor's degree for a Colby Nolan - actually a deputy attorney general's 6-year-old black cat - claiming he had experience that included baby-sitting and retail management.

On Trinity Southern's Web site, where the price for a doctorate is $499, the school said it awards degrees "to individuals with the same working knowledge as a recent college graduate from a traditional university."

The school allegedly determined that Colby Nolan's resume entitled him to a master of business administration degree, which came embossed with Trinity Southern's gold seal. A transcript listed the cat's course work and 3.5 grade-point average.

The state is seeking a permanent injunction, civil penalties, costs and restitution for violating consumer law and restrictions on unsolicited e-mail ads.

The defendants are the school; Innovative Cellular and Wireless Inc. of Corpus Christi, Texas; Alton Scott Poe of St. Cloud, Fla.; and Craig Barton Poe of Frisco, Texas.

Alton Poe is vice chancellor and dean of admissions for Trinity Southern, and Craig Poe is president of Innovative Cellular and Wireless, according to the attorney general's office. Craig Poe allegedly used the alias "Desmond Jones" and claimed a fictitious home address in Scranton.

A phone message left on Trinity Southern's customer support hot line was not immediately returned Monday. None of the other three defendants appears to have a listed or published phone number.

The school's address in Plano, Texas, is a Mr. Parcel mailbox outlet that formerly collected its mail, said store manager Margie Chadwick.

Trinity Southern University stopped picking up its mail there some time ago, Chadwick said Monday, but she was unsure how long ago.

The Commonwealth Court lawsuit accuses the defendants of falsely claiming Trinity Southern University can grant legitimate academic degrees and provide bona fide transcripts, that it is accredited by the nonexistent Recoleta University in Argentina, and that it prosecutes or revokes degrees from undeserving recipients.

The attorney general's office said more than 18,000 illegal e-mails were sent out this year with links to Trinity Southern's Web address, including 300 that appeared to originate from the Internet servers of Pennsylvania companies and institutions. The defendants allegedly targeted computer systems that were vulnerable to such abuse to throw off investigators, officials said.

The messages carried deceptive subject lines such as "Virus Alert From Your ISP" and "Just what do you need?" and contained the fake return e-mail address of Desmond Jones, according to the lawsuit. Other techniques helped thwart anti-spam filters.

Among the alleged victims are Penn State University and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as numerous Internet service providers, businesses and technology companies. The attorney general's office said abuse of the victims' computer systems was costly and generated undeserved ill will by the recipients.


Trinity Southern: http://www.trinitysouthernuniversity.org


Article's URL:

http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/ ... 12330.html
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Postby jimliker » Thu Dec 09, 2004 8:30 pm

ha ha carreypunkrawker.....funny news.
u tried to joke with me by saying that it was ur cat.....anyways it was funny. nice to talk u that day & hope v will chat again.

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