In a consumer protection settlement agreement filed Wednesday in a Kentucky court, QuinStreet, a Foster City-based Internet marketing company, agreed to hand over control of one of its websites to the federal government and pay 20 states a total of $2.5 million in fines, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
QuinStreet is accused of deceptively marketing one of its websites, GIBill.com, to veterans.
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway led an investigation along with the attorneys general of several states earlier this month.
According to CaliforniaWatch.org, the investigators claimed QuinStreet websites "were preying on veterans by giving the appearance of being owned or endorsed by the government or the military, when in fact the company was using the sites to generate leads for the company's for-profit college clients."
"The actions were unconscionable and purposefully drove veterans to for-profit colleges who were perhaps more interested in getting their hands on the federal benefits than in educating our soldiers and their families," said Conway when he announced the settlement, the Associated Press reported.
The states involved in the investigation and subsequent settlement said that several of QuinStreet's sites, including GIBill.com, deceptively gave the appearance that the sites were operated, owned or endorsed by the U.S. government or military.
According to the settlement agreement, QuinStreet will relinquish ownership and control of GIBill.com to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which will reportedly use the domain to promote the government's official program and its available benefits.