PHOENIX (Legal Newsline) – The Federal Trade Commission has filed charges claiming that two operators of online high schools that claim legitimacy are actually little more than diploma mills.

The FTC alleges that these two separate operations misled consumers about legitimacy. Names used by these operations included Madison Falls High School, Columbia Northern High School, Stafford High School and many others. They charged anywhere from $135 to $349 for a worthless certificate, according to FTC claims.

“The defendants took advantage of people who wanted a high school diploma,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said. “If a company says you can get a diploma in no time at all or by simply taking an online test, it's almost certainly a scam.”

The FTC filed documents claiming that these operations bought numerous website names designed to look like legitimate online high schools and used metatags such as GED and GED online to place higher in search indexes. When consumers go to the sites, they are greeted with marketing messages claiming that the diplomas offered by the defendants are equivalent to actual diplomas.

The FTC seeks a temporary restraining order to halt the operations and free assets of two separate sets of defendants – Stepping Stonez Development LLC and Capitol Network Distance Learning Programs LLC.

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