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University Web Developers

Over the weekend I received an email from a student telling me that she saw a Facebook ad with our school’s name and logo, offering a $10,000 scholarship. She sent me the link and expressed concern that it was shady and thought I’d like to know.

I changed my Facebook demographic information to try and see the ad (assuming that it was targeted at current students), and it worked. Here is the picture:


And here is the link it goes to:

http://www.scholarshipzone.com/form.php?c=189975043&forcelp=

I had our Vice President for Admissions look at “Scholarship Zone” and she confirmed that we are not at all affiliated and had her doubts of its validity.

Seeing as how I doubt our 2000 student campus is the bulk of their income, my guess is that they’re doing this on a large scale, a la the Class of 2013 issue from December.

I have filed a complaint to the Intellectual Property Infringement service at Facebook and am waiting on a response.

But, I have no way to know, so that’s where the super-networked Highered community comes in.

Does anyone know anything about Scholarship Zone? Are they using your school’s logo to advertise on Facebook?

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Interesting. I'll shoot an email to my Facebook contacts and report back what I hear.
This is similar to when these spammy places buy Google keywords on your college's name (they do it for mine.)

Since they used your logo, I think you did the right thing by alerting Facebook. Being the giant company that they are, they might not respond. The best thing you can do is have your college's counsel send this company a cease and desist letter. You can also do the same on Google and Yahoo if you see similar things happening there.

IANAL, but if they continue after all the above steps, your counsel could file suit against them.
It looks like Vinyl Interactive is the company behind the Scholarship Zone website, based on a WHOIS lookup on the domain.
I ran a reverse DNS on it, and while the domain is blocked (stupid GoDaddy), it does say the name server is owned by Vinyl Interactive, which says it's a "lead generation" company.

Hmm. Sounds like they're fishing for incoming college students contact info they can sell.
Here's one I just got. Links to http://xldealsnow.com/Butler-Ins.php

Have legal draft up a cease and desist letter for them too.

Here's another one:

This one links to http://studentfinancialaidhelp.info/?t202id=3268&t202kw=et1819ns

One company with different URLs or many? whois says that studentfinancialaidhelp.info is registered to Murali Kumar of Chennai, India.

Looking up the url www.scholarshipzone.com with www.lookup365.com it shows a CNAME of www.scholarshipsolution.com. Perhaps a more web savvy person can explain the role of a CNAME and what that would mean.

Scholarshipsolution.com shows the same $10,000 scholarship stuff (though no college logos that I could see) on their site as well.

They list their email as info@scholarshipsolution.com and address as Free College Scholarships LLC., 135 Townsend St, Ste 615, SF CA 94107. The owners name is Ms. Nili Malach and you can contact her at (415) 503-2342.

Interestingly enough the owner, Nili Malach, is also co-founder of Vinyl Interactive. Here is the contact related to Vinyl:
(415) 503-2342
Fax: (303) 835-4617
Address: 1550 Bryant St Ste 545
San Francisco, CA 94103-4873
(Citation for above: http://www.bbb.org/greater-san-francisco/business-reviews/lead-prod...)

You can make a report to the Better Business Bureau about Free College Scholarships LLC. here: https://www.bbb.org/online/consumer/cks.aspx?ID=1070813161150820

Further digging also pulled up a connection to http://freecollegescholarships.net/
Further info:

It appears the address for Scholarship Zone, Scholarshipsolution and Free College Scholarships LLC is also connected to getyourdegree.com and get getyourdegree.net. Those sites of been linked to harassing telemarketer calls regarding getting your degree online. More info here http://800notes.com/Phone.aspx/1-800-656-3152/2
Our ad clicked through to http://www.freecollegescholarships.net/form.php?c=190293621&for..., which looks very similar to http://www.scholarshipzone.com/form.php?c=189975043&forcelp=, which is where the OCU ad ends up.

Follow the BBB link on freecollegescholarships.net and you can get to this contact info:

Back to top
Business Contact and Profile for Free College Scholarships, LLC

Name: Free College Scholarships, LLC
Phone: (415) 503-2342
Address: 135 Townsend Street, # 615
San Francisco, CA 94107
Website: www.freecollegescholarships.net
Original Business Start Date: June 2005
Principal: Ms. Nili Malach, Owner
Customer Contact: Ms. Nili Malach, Owner
Entity: Limited Liability Corporation
Incorporated: March 2005, DE
Employees: 1
TOB Classification: Scholarships & Financial Aid
BBB Accreditation: Free College Scholarships, LLC is a BBB Accredited business.

Same phone number as for Vinyl Interactive.
Wow, what great information and team work. Hopefully we can shed some light on this and also all be reminded that we should be vigilant for this type of brand-jacking.
Also, as an update concerning damage control, I just posted an announcement on our FB fan page saying that we were in no way affiliated with FB ads using our name and logo and offering scholarships. Two people have already indicated they appreciated the heads up.

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