Mesa, SDSU, and UCSD students- beware of possible scam

Flyers+posted+around+the+Mesa+College+campus%2C+the+blue+one+on+the+bottom+right+is+the+focus+of+this+story.
Flyers posted around the Mesa College campus, the blue one on the bottom right is the focus of this story.

Flyers posted around the Mesa College campus, the blue one on the bottom right is the focus of this story.

Chris Anthony

Chris Anthony

Flyers posted around the Mesa College campus, the blue one on the bottom right is the focus of this story.

Chris Anthony, News Editor

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Earlier this semester, The Mesa Press received a letter from a student named Mel, who requested that we investigate a flyer posted around campus advertising enrollment in a biomedical research certificate (BRC) program.

The letter read as follows, “How about U guys doing investigative reporting on this ad all over Mesa + UCSD + SDSU? They do not answer the phone. I asked for info about scholarships because they offer it on their (website). They responded for a demand for $1723. My bio prof. says it may be a big scam. The dean of this group says he is from Japan. But his name is Turkish. Maybe his picture is fake, a dead man posted by a scam group collecting $1723 from desperate students. Thanks. Mel.” Attached to the letter was a copy of the ad.

Chris Anthony
Here is the actual letter we received back in March.

The ad in question, which can still be seen around campus, featured a website- www.TheNHU.org/brc. Upon visiting the URL listed on the ad, which is a .org and not an .edu, visitors are taken to a page for “National Health University,” where the program for potential students is explained as, “An online, professor-mentored, educational program designed to provide motivated pre-doctoral students an opportunity to learn about, conduct, and publish literature-based biomedical research that aims to discover new therapies for contemporary human diseases.” Further down the same page is a part that says they are “currently enrolling up to 25 students through Spring & Summer of 2017,” and just below this is a link to a registration form.

Here is where things get odd. The actual registration form only asks for very basic information- things like name, address, high school and college attended, education goals, etc. To test out what would happen after filling this form out, The Mesa Press filled out the registration with ridiculous info. After that, the form was accepted immediately, and the page was automatically redirected to PayPal, where a payment of exactly $498 was requested. This was not the first time either, previously we filled the form out with ridiculous information about a month ago, and were asked to pay $1723, just like in the letter we received.

Chris Anthony
A screenshot of the registration form from the NHU website, where it can be seen that even fictional students have a chance of attending National Health University.

The address listed for NHU, at the time we received the letter, was somewhere in Irvine. A simple search on Google Maps revealed that address to be somewhere in a business park, close to UC Irvine. Many calls to the phone number provided were placed in order to get more information, however, none of them were returned.

The Dean of NHU did appear to be a real person, and not a “dead man” like the letter suggested. His profiles were found on LinkedIn and Twitter, but everything posted was in Indonesian. A tweet was even sent to him, but he never tweeted back.

The Mesa Press did receive an email back, though it did seem like it was automated. The email claimed that, “Within 72hrs after program-registration, your assigned professor-mentor for this program will reach out to you via email and grant you access to our virtual classroom, where you will work on an internet-based biomedical research project relevant to several major world diseases.” Even though The Mesa Press did not have $1723 or $498 to spare in order to check whether or not this was legitimate, it still seemed strange that NHU would accept payment from students without even knowing what their GPA, or even their major is, even after registering using ridiculous information.

After multiple failed attempts to get into direct contact with a representative of NHU, the decision was made to take the trip north to Irvine in person and finally speak to a human being. Unfortunately, and perhaps conveniently, the address listed on their website suddenly changed to somewhere in San Francisco.

The address in San Francisco was listed on Google as being part of a building with offices leased out to businesses, and the phone number of the company that leased them out was provided. The call was made, and the business said that they had never heard of NHU.

Luckily, the address from Irvine previously left on the website was kept on record, and since it was part of a business park, there would be a current or previous listing on the business park’s website right? No, there was no listing, current or previous, at all.

Three additional phone calls were made, one to The Better Business Bureau, another to the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education, and finally the U.S. Department of Accreditation- all three had no listing whatsoever of National Health University.

If you or anyone you know has signed up for this program, please contact The Mesa Press by filling out the contact form below.

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Mesa, SDSU, and UCSD students- beware of possible scam