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Calif. Attorney General Sues For-Profit College Company

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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS13/AP) — California’s attorney general is suing a for-profit college company, alleging it misrepresented job placement rates and school programs to lure low-income state residents.

The Attorney General’s Office filed the lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges, Inc. on Thursday. According to the Attorney General’s Office, Santa Ana-based Corinthian and its subsidiaries operate 24 Everest, Heald and WyoTech colleges in California. Of the 81,000 total students attending the schools, about 27,000 are in the state.

The lawsuit accuses Corinthian of false and predatory advertising, intentional misrepresentation to students, securities fraud and unlawful use of military seals in advertisements.

Attorney General Kamala Harris called the company’s practices “predatory” in a statement and said they were designed to rake in profits and mislead investors.

“They targeted some of our state’s most particularly vulnerable people — including low income, single mothers and veterans returning from combat,” Harris said in a press release.

The complaint also mentioned internal company documents obtained by the Department of Justice, which described Corinthian’s “target demographic as ‘isolated,’ ‘impatient,’ individuals with ‘low self-esteem,’ who have ‘few people in their lives who care about them’ and who are ‘stuck’ and ‘unable to see and plan well for future.’ “

For specific programs, Corinthian allegedly advertised job placement rates of 100 percent. According to the complaint, there was no evidential support, in some cases, that any student gained employment within a specified time frame.

Company spokesman Kent Jenkins said he had just become aware of the suit and hadn’t had a chance to review it.

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the average cost of a Corinthian associate’s degree is $40,000, an online associate’s degree is $34,000, and the average non-degree healthcare program is $17,000.

The company’s website says it has more than 111 schools throughout North America.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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