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Copycat College Site Scams Students With Fake Application Fees

The University of Redwood, judging from its website, seems like any other college. The school boasts a full faculty, its campus features plenty of verdant, open spaces, and it even accepts applications online. The only problem, though, is that the University of Redwood doesn't exist. And all those alluring campus photos and accomplished faculty members actually belong to Oregon's Reed College -- which does actually exist.

Professors at Reed first discovered the similarities after searching for themselves on Google, and discovering their credentials on a different university's site. But it wasn't only Reed's faculty that Redwood poached. On its site, the fake school claims that "Redwood is named after the Oregon pioneers Simeon and Amanda Redwood." Reed, not surprisingly, is named after Simeon and Amanda Reed.

The school's lawyers are now calling for the site to be shut down, and have alleged that whoever created Redwood University is probably collecting application fees from unsuspecting students. Martin Ringle, Reed's chief technology officer, told the Wall Street Journal that such a scam would be remarkably easy to operate. Upon receiving an application fee, "a shrewd scammer could wait several weeks, then issue a rejection letter, and the student would never know," Ringle explained.

School officials believe that Redwood's domain is owned by someone in China, as the fictitious school has been mentioned on several higher education blogs across Asia. Go Daddy, the company that hosts Redwood's site, briefly deactivated it after receiving complaints from Reed. But a Go Daddy spokesman later confirmed that the site had been reactivated, after the company determined that the "allegedly infringing material was removed."

Reed, however, insists that the rogue site still features infringing material, and promises to pursue its legal campaign against the owners. According to Ringle, the plagiarism is so blatant that, in most cases, only one word separates Redwood from Reed: "Whoever did this went to some trouble to clone a good deal of material from the first three layers of the Reed College site and change all mentions of Reed to Redwood."

Tags: Application, china, college, GoDaddy, ReedCollege, scam, students, top, university, UniversityOfRedwood, Web