Bryan Cohen Nov. 18, 2013, 7:16pm

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) - California Attorney General Kamala Harris has announced the removal of ten private health insurance websites that allegedly misled Californians by imitating the state's official health insurance marketplace.

The Covered California website is the state's official Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace. In September, Harris' office started looking into websites that allegedly imitated Covered California. Harris' office sent cease and desist letters to multiple website operators informing them their websites were in violation of state law. The letters demanded either immediate removal of the site or transfer of the domain name to the state's official exchange.

The California Affordable Care Act forbids individuals or entities from claiming to provide services on Covered California's behalf without securing a valid agreement on the state exchange.

"These websites fraudulently imitated Covered California in order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the benefits of the Affordable Care Act," Harris said. "My office will continue to investigate and shut down these kinds of sites. I urge Californians to avoid healthcare scams by visiting"

The websites were operated by private health insurance companies or brokers that were not affiliated with Covered California. The websites contained domain names similar to the state's official healthcare exchange and contained unauthorized references to the official exchange's name and logo.

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