WASHINGTON, D.C. (Legal Newsline) - A multistate settlement was announced on Wednesday between 20 state attorneys general and a California company that allegedly tried to get military veterans to attend for-profit colleges.
The Foster City, Calif.-based QuinStreet Inc. allegedly used several deceptive and misleading websites, including the GIBill.com website, to target military personnel by giving the appearance that the sites were owned, operated or endorsed by the U.S. military or government.
Under the terms of the agreement, QuinStreet Inc. will pay $2.5 million to 20 states.
QuinStreet Inc. operates websites that generate leads, particularly for the for-profit education industry. The sites listed schools that were eligible for the GI Bill and allegedly gave the impression that the veterans could only use their education benefits at the schools listed. The list allegedly only consisted of QuinStreet clients, which were mostly for-profit colleges.
"This settlement ends the deceptive practices this company used to mislead the people who risk their lives to protect our freedom," Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. "Our veterans and active duty military personnel have earned their educational benefits and should not be subjected to trickery when deciding where best to use those benefits."
QuinStreet must relinquish control and ownership of the GIBill.com domain to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The department will use the domain to educate service members about the benefits available to them under the GI Bill and to promote the program in general. QuinStreet must also shut down and stop using all domain names that include the term GI Bill.
QuinStreet also agreed to disclose on its websites that the schools listed on its sites are not the only ones that accept GI Bill benefits and to include links to the Department of Veterans Affairs page that provides a complete list, place unavoidable disclosures on its military-related websites that make it clear that the site is not operated or owned by the U.S. government, disclose on all of its education-related websites that schools responding to a consumers' search are advertisers or pay to show up on the sites, and shut down the Facebook, Twitter and all other social media accounts connected with GIBill.com.
The 20 states involved in the settlement include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.