Reed College in the US was shocked to discover that scammers had copied its website and changed the name to the University of Redwood.
The big idea was to collect application fees from prospective students in Hong Kong and Asia by posing as a legitimate site. Since university sites are often so dull that you need to skimp on the creative juice to build one, the scammers thought it was easier to get the authentic look by just nicking the whole thing.
Martin Ringle, chief technology officer at the Portland college, told the Daily Mail that after collecting a fee, ‘a shrewd scammer could wait several weeks, then issue a rejection letter’ and pocket the cash.
Reed College has been forced to change its original homepage until the “Redwood” site is taken down.
What was even stranger was Ringle found serious mentions of the University of Redwood on Asian higher-education blogs as if the outfit really existed.
The Redwood site was being run on the web-hosting company Go Daddy which shut it down and then allowed it to go ahead again.
Apparently Go Daddy has ascertained that the ‘allegedly infringing material was removed’ although it is not quite certain how this can be true. Reed said that it will keep trying until the scam is taken down.
Reed College is a swanky school with annual tuition fees of about $50,000 while the University of Redwood website gives an address in Torrance, California, that belongs to a mail-forwarding company which probably has less swank.