Yesterday I reported on how a Utah-based company, Neutron Interactive, operated a website that promised jobs but was in reality a scam -- it seemed to function mainly to send customer leads to at least one other company's Salt Lake City call center, called EdSoup, whose only purpose, in turn, is to recruit people, mostly low-income people, to high-priced training programs at for-profit colleges. Similar sites promise food stamps, Medicaid, and heating assistance, but all lead to more pitches to sign up for expensive programs at the University of Phoenix, Brown Mackie, Colorado Tech, Kaplan, and other for-profits. EdSoup employees gave me the scoop on this shameless, deceptive operation, and backed it up with documentation, which I supplemented with my own research.
Within 90 minutes of my posting that story yesterday on Republic Report and The Huffington Post, the site, localemploymentnetwork.org, had been shut down. Perhaps just caution by its operators, or perhaps some concern about suggestions I made that the Neutron and EdSoup operations might be violating federal and state laws.
But with more than $30 billion a year in taxpayer money going to the for-profit college industry, the shady world of generating leads of potential students is a thousand-headed regenerating hydra, and I am only beginning to discover that a lot more information is hiding in plain sight.
This morning, I got curious and did a quick web search.
At a site called scamadviser.com, I found a page showing that the server that had hosted localemploymentnetwork.com, based at Digital Ocean in New York City, runs four other websites. One is neutronnetwork.com, which advertises Neutron Interactive's services of providing "strictly compliant leads" to for-profit college companies like Corinthian, ITT Tech, and the shuttered-for-fraud ATI, and shows an image of a smiling health care worker that is also found on another shady site, with contact info in the Philippines, that I highlighted yesterday, medicaidinsurancebenefits.com.
Neutron, by the way, is a proud member of the for-profit college trade association, APSCU, whose shameless leader, former congressman Steve Gunderson (R-WI), keeps decrying the alleged vicitimization of his sector at the hands of government -- even though government provides almost 90 percent of the revenue for many APSCU schools.
The other three sites on the New York-based server are JusticeCareersOnline.com, medicalcareeralliance.org, and toptruckers.com, and all seem to be in the same vein as localemploymentnetwork -- promising jobs up front, but before you can see any jobs, you must enter your contact information and agree "that the phone number provided (home or cell) may be dialed by automated technology so that I may be contacted by online.justicecareersonline.com and up to 3 partners regarding education or employment details and I am not required to consent to receive services." In other words, more leads for boiler room for-profit colleges sales operations like EdSoup.
No doubt there are many more such scam sites operating on the Internet today, and maybe they won't come down until each one is discovered and called out by me or others -- or shut down by law enforcement. We'll see.
This article also appears on Republic Report.