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Attorney General Harris Files Suit in Alleged College Predatory Scheme

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris

Attorney General Kamala D. Harris filed a lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (CCI) and its subsidiaries that operate Everest, Heald and WyoTech colleges for false and predatory advertising, intentional misrepresentations to students, securities fraud and unlawful use of military seals in advertisements.

The complaint alleges that CCI intentionally targeted low-income, vulnerable Californians through deceptive and false advertisements and aggressive marketing campaigns that misrepresented job placement rates and school programs. CCI deployed these advertisements through persistent internet, telemarketing and television ad campaigns. The complaint further alleges that Corinthian executives knowingly misrepresented job placement rates to investors and accrediting agencies, which harmed students, investors and taxpayers.

“The predatory scheme devised by executives at Corinthian Colleges, Inc. is unconscionable. Designed to rake in profits and mislead investors, they targeted some of our state’s most particularly vulnerable people—including low income, single mothers and veterans returning from combat,” Attorney General Harris said. “My office will continue our investigation into the for-profit college industry and will hold accountable those responsible for these illegal, exploitative practices.”

According to Harris’ complaint, CCI’s predatory marketing efforts specifically target vulnerable, low-income job seekers and single parents who have annual incomes near the federal poverty line. In internal company documents obtained by the Department of Justice, CCI describes its target demographic as “isolated,” “impatient,” individuals with “low self-esteem,” who have “few people in their lives who care about them” and who are “stuck” and “unable to see and plan well for future.”

According to the complaint, CCI advertised job placement rates as high as 100% for specific programs when, in some cases, there is no evidence that a single student obtained a job during the specified time frame. The complaint further alleges that CCI runs millions of online and mobile ads offering ultrasound, x-ray, radiology, and dialysis technician programs at their California campuses—when, in fact, CCI does not offer those programs. CCI’s call center agents are disciplined if they tell callers that CCI does not offer these programs. Additionally, according to the complaint, CCI includes official Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard seals in mailings and on web sites without authorization and in violation of California law.

Current or former CCI students who wish to file a complaint can contact the Attorney General’s Office at: http://oag.ca.gov/contact/consumer-complaint-against-business-or-company

Resources for current or former CCI students are available at: oag.ca.gov

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