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February 27, 2011 9:00 AM   Subscribe

University of Redwood sounds a lot like Reed College, down to faculty and building names. And apparently it doesn't exist.

University of Redwood (not to be confused with College of the Redwoods, which is a perfectly legitimate school), which seems to be just a web site and a P.O. box, is apparently designed to collect application fees from foreign students (who will presumably all get rejection letters after they've paid up). But rather than going to the trouble of writing their own fake content, the people behind this "University" apparently just took content from the Reed College web site and replaced the name "Reed" with "Redwood" (right down to the names of the founders). Reed College is, understandably, not amused.
posted by klausness (47 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite

 
[Takes University of Redwood B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. diplomas down from office wall.]
posted by orange swan at 9:05 AM on February 27, 2011 [21 favorites]


As a graduate of the prestigious University of Redwood Medical School, I can assure you that it is indeed completely legitimate. Now, if you'll just take off your pants, we can get started with the examination.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:06 AM on February 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hiii evrybuddy!
posted by dougrayrankin at 9:07 AM on February 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Looks like it's not only Reed College. The homepage image is a view of the University of Washington.
posted by nangua at 9:11 AM on February 27, 2011


When I was working at the admissions office, doing office grunt stuff, the summer between my junior and senior years at Reed, one of my jobs was to enter the names of high school students who'd replied to our mailouts and wanted more information. These were little pre-postage-paid cards in brochures that Reed sent to kids who'd done well on their PSATs; I got literally dozens like these when I was in high school and I'm sure many of you did too. Anyway, I'll never forget in the "comment" section of the card below name and adress one boy wrote, "I'd like to know more about Redlands."

Of course, Redlands is a real school.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:12 AM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is so funny to me. I mean, poor foreign students getting scammed out of money, but this is really hilarious.
posted by anniecat at 9:14 AM on February 27, 2011


I went to a diploma mill, and I suspect that the only real difference in real-world effect between Redwood and Cal State would be that Redwood won't charge me for parking.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:15 AM on February 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


..and OMG, they call Reedies "Redwoodies."
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:17 AM on February 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


I like how the events page has a picture of Gordon Brown speaking in from of a bunch of school children.
I'd be curious if we could figure out the original sources for all the images on that site.
posted by thebestsophist at 9:18 AM on February 27, 2011


What a bizarre little scam. I wonder how well it's worked for them? The list of faculty is totally bogus, I know half those profs at Reed. Not even pretending to look legit.

I set up the first index.html at reed.edu, back in the long-long-ago when the tech nerds ran websites instead of marketing.
posted by Nelson at 9:21 AM on February 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


There are imagine search engines btw.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:23 AM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


This site would be a more successful scam if the links worked. I can't even figure out where to download an application or send my (undoubtedly reasonable!) application fee.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:28 AM on February 27, 2011


This makes me start to worry about the $250 application fee I sent to Barvard Buniversity.

And now that I think about it, the application essay was, "If you got ripped off by a phony college application fee racket, would you track down the people behind it and sue? Why or why not?"
posted by PlusDistance at 9:32 AM on February 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm trying to figure out if scammers are getting lazier, or if it's easier to call them out.
posted by ZeusHumms at 9:32 AM on February 27, 2011


It would be funny if it were a joke site created by a Reed alum who is angry that all he got from college was $80K in debt and a job at a bookstore. He would call it "Reade College" and then hyperlink a picture of his genitals where someone clicks "For more information."
posted by anniecat at 9:34 AM on February 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


A bit more looking shows they did a terrible job on the search and replace. http://uredwood.com/Facts_about_Reed.php, for instance, promises "Facts about Reed". Frankly the site looks incomplete if it's a scam, but the articles above say that people may already be fooled by it.

I spent a little time trying to figure out who's behind this and whether they have other scams. The News page includes several test posts from someone named "Hemant", but that name doesn't appear anywhere else in the web pages and it's too generic a term to research externally. The site's hosted at GoDaddy along with a bunch of other sites that look legit. One technique that didn't work was looking to see who linked to uredwood.com early on; apparently Google doesn't support link: queries very well anymore and Bing doesn't do them at all.
posted by Nelson at 9:39 AM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that picture is definitely from University of Washington.

I really wish this were more of a kid trying to put copy the movie Accepted.
posted by milkrate at 9:45 AM on February 27, 2011


Degrees in Nigerian Internet scams, three card monte, and so on.
posted by pianomover at 9:54 AM on February 27, 2011


I'm with anniecat on this one.
posted by sundrop at 10:04 AM on February 27, 2011


Interesting that a fax number on the site: 650-362-9683 is a Redwood City, California phone number.

I'm sure that's more likely the source of the name, rather than "Oregon pioneers Simeon and Amanda Redwood"
posted by eye of newt at 10:05 AM on February 27, 2011


Oh dear, the photos are even the same (I recognize a bunch of my former classmates). I tried to get to the page that has my photo on it (some guy was taking website photos around campus once during my freshman year, I happened to be walking across the bridge at the right time), but the link is fake.
posted by hopeless romantique at 10:07 AM on February 27, 2011


I think the fictitious "University of Southern California" did that to me in the '70s. They apparently have given fake diplomas to some high ranking members of the Nixon and Reagan Administrations and homicidal football players...
posted by oneswellfoop at 10:11 AM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think the fictitious "University of Southern California" did that to me in the '70s. They apparently have given fake diplomas to some high ranking members of the Nixon and Reagan Administrations and homicidal football players...

And reality TV stars such as Whitney Port and Spencer Pratt.
posted by anniecat at 10:14 AM on February 27, 2011


Alternate hypothesis: this is a false flag operation by Reed College itself. Lots of attention, more page views, their names in the news, all in a way that suggests they offer an enviable education.

Madness, you say? I've gone 'round the bend, given in to paranoia and magical thinking? This scheme is too preposterous for any institution to undertake? You believe this because you've never sat in a meeting with the Dean of Admissions of a small liberal arts college. I have.
posted by el_lupino at 10:14 AM on February 27, 2011 [13 favorites]


http://uredwood.com/Facts_about_Reed.php, for instance, promises "Facts about Reed". Frankly the site looks incomplete if it's a scam, but the articles above say that people may already be fooled by it.

Nelson cracked this case wide open now. We can all go home.
posted by anniecat at 10:16 AM on February 27, 2011


I love how there is no link to any current student services.
posted by Felex at 10:21 AM on February 27, 2011


You'd think they'd at least s/Oregon/California/g, too.
posted by narwhal bacon at 10:25 AM on February 27, 2011


If the website wasn't so bad I'd think it was a fake example university done by a web design company that does university sites.
posted by NoraReed at 10:28 AM on February 27, 2011


College professors complain about being busy and highly in demand, but I see that all of my old Reed professors have held down second jobs at Redwood, the sly bastards.

Also, I love that the honor principle page is totally gutted.
posted by verbyournouns at 10:30 AM on February 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder how the Redwood renn fayr compares.
posted by wcfields at 10:33 AM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nobody noticed the .com instead of the .edu?

Faked scam, methinks
posted by infini at 10:36 AM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh boo, don't bring that Willamette Week bullshit article into this.
posted by hopeless romantique at 10:37 AM on February 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


There are a lot of real universities out there that leave relocated, retired and even dead faculty members on their websites and quite consciously accept graduate student application fees for people who can no longer take students.

This fee fraud is more common than you think and isn't always as obviously shady as Reed/Redwood.
posted by srboisvert at 1:47 PM on February 27, 2011


I bet Professor Professorson is mixed up in this.
posted by piratebowling at 2:46 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how the Redwood renn fayr compares.

Instead of smoking weed, they smoke wedwood.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:21 PM on February 27, 2011 [10 favorites]


Nobody noticed the .com instead of the .edu?

Don't you have to actually be an accredited institution in order to get an .edu domain? But then, since the TLD craziness of the '00s I suppose nobody pays attention to the last domain component any more.
posted by hattifattener at 3:59 PM on February 27, 2011


As a former university webmaster, I can tell you that this happens all the time, only it's usually colleges stealing from each other.

One example is Brown's (in)famous "blind"-style site design (see archive.org). Eric Stoller (full disclosure: Internet friend) documented it being ripped off not once but twice.

Usually what happens is some faculty or staff member says they want a sight just like, e.g., Reed. So then either the young and inexperienced web designer doesn't get copyright law and proceeds to pull down an entire copy of the website, or the faculty/staff member bullies the web designer into making it Just Like Reed. Either way, it's bad.

This is not what happened here. Not even close. But my point is that this happens more often than you'd think. There are still a lot of people who think because it's on the web, it must be free to use.
posted by dw at 4:14 PM on February 27, 2011


Don't you have to actually be an accredited institution in order to get an .edu domain?

Not only that, you get exactly one domain name. One. That's it. So Oregon is uoregon.edu, not oregon.edu or uo.edu. Oregon can't get either one for aliasing. In fact, should they ever decide to go to, say, oregon.edu, from the date of the switchover every uoregon.edu URL or e-mail address will fail -- there is no grace period.

I know this because Washington is one of a very, very few universities with TWO .edu domains -- washington.edu and uw.edu. There was a brief period where Educause let schools reserve a second address. Most every other university that took a second name eventually gave it back (because they weren't using it), but UW eventually negotiated a deal where they could keep uw.edu as an alias for washington.edu.

/tangent
posted by dw at 4:22 PM on February 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


You can play all sorts of redwood instruments in the school band. And if you're placement exam scores aren't up to par, they have special redwooducation courses first semester. They also have a vibrant campus culture, with ultimate frisbee being a popular sport among the undergrads. Just don't let your frisbee get tredwood! And the genetics department is top notch. Just last year, Professor Smith introduced the Chihuadane, an entirely new bredwood of dog! Affirmative action is also a top priority--the campus is a leader in diversity, with students of every color, race, and credwood.
posted by notswedish at 4:55 PM on February 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Uredwood's Reactor: "The Reed Research Reactor was established in 1968 and is the only reactor operated primarily by undergraduates."
posted by zippy at 5:45 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I went to Reed. So I am sorry that I was unaware of this alternative.
posted by knoyers at 6:27 PM on February 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The university name would have made me raise an eyebrow. I remember a prof in first year telling me that "University of ____" is only used with cities and places. Otherwise, it's _____ University. Since this college is in Redwood and I'm not aware of Redwood being a place, it seems like it should be Redwood University. The history page suggests Redwood is a surname.
posted by acoutu at 8:21 PM on February 27, 2011


Of course, Redlands is a real school.

Yes, yes it is. And it happens to be where I went to school. Every damn time I mention 'Oh I went to the University of Redlands' some idiot will say 'Oh is it by the redwoods?' No, no it is not. At all. (It's in Redlands, a charming city in that armpit of a county, San Bernardino).

While they ripped the website, faculty, and general principles off of Reed and probably College of the Redwoods, the name is most similar to Redlands'. University of Redwoods and University of Redlands? Yeesh, I'm so glad the former is a scam since it makes the latter sound so much more legit.
posted by librarylis at 8:29 PM on February 27, 2011


It's in Redlands, a charming city in that armpit of a county, San Bernardino

You, ma'am, have the honor of dishonoring the county of mah birth. I demand satisfaction!

*slap*
posted by DU at 5:57 AM on February 28, 2011


>>It's in Redlands, a charming city in that armpit of a county, San Bernardino

>You, ma'am, have the honor of dishonoring the county of mah birth. I demand satisfaction!


You are right. It's not an armpit, it's an anus. I kid, I kid.

At $50 to $100 each, collecting some erroneous application fees could add up nicely. Redwood college seems a bit low profile, though -- surely you would do better with Harvarde, Yalle, and Browne, say.
posted by Forktine at 6:04 AM on February 28, 2011


DU, loath though I am to insult the county of your birth, after four years of long and arduous service in that miserable place I must say this:

Poor San Bernardino, so far from the beach and so close to Los Angeles!

/born in San Diego County. Will give you points if you were born in Mentone or Yucaipa. No points for Ontario, Rialto, or Barstow.
posted by librarylis at 10:48 AM on February 28, 2011


There's now also a post about it on Reed's blog. I'd missed the reference to "academic fredwoodom."
posted by klausness at 4:07 PM on March 1, 2011


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