Alleged victims of an online diploma mill filed suit in San Diego Superior Court on January 11. The defendants include so-called Coronado Pacific University, at one time based in downtown San Diego. Among the charges are consumer fraud and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (otherwise known as "RICO").
According to the suit, the victims paid big bucks for online courses and got nothing remotely useful. The parent of the enterprise was originally based in Pakistan and exposed by the New York Times last year. It was closed down in Pakistan, but the Pakistani Federal Investigation Agency has not returned the hundreds of millions of dollars taken from victims, says the suit.
Coronado Pacific made multiple misrepresentations, according to the suit. It said it was registered by the California Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, and recognized by the United States Distance Learning Association. All these claims were false, says the suit. The purported university said it had "top-flight" scholars on the faculty, but it "did not have any faculty," according to the suit.
The head of the operation, Brett Loebel, a defendant, used a number of pseudonyms, including Richard Smith, Paul Bell, and Brett Howard. Loebel owned and controlled several so-called institutions, including Almeda University, based on the Caribbean tax and secrecy haven of Nevis.