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Canadian Correspondence School Settles "Vermont" Address Claims With Attorney General

CONTACT: Elliot Burg, Assistant Attorney General, (802) 828-5507

January 4, 2011

Stratford Career Institute, Inc. (“SCI”), a correspondence school located in Mount Royal, Quebec, has entered into a settlement with the Vermont Attorney General’s Office to resolve claims that the school misrepresented its geographic location as being in Vermont. The school will pay civil penalties and costs in the amount of $10,000 to the State.

SCI offers non-accredited “distance education” or correspondence programs at the high school level and in a number of vocational areas, including training for medical office, nursing and veterinary assistants. SCI does have an office in St. Albans, Vermont, but that office is used primarily for shipping, receiving, mailing and some administrative functions; and the school is actually based in Quebec. Nonetheless, SCI represented its location as St. Albans (either alone or alongside the address in Mount Royal) on its letterhead, envelopes, academic materials, diplomas, and website.

In 2006, the Attorney General’s Office issued a rule to limit the use of a Vermont address to describe the location of a company that is not based in Vermont. The rule, Consumer Fraud Rule (CF) 120, provides generally that no business person may use a Vermont address to describe its geographic location unless the company discharges substantial functions in the state, beyond such activities as mail handling or the presence of sales or distribution staff. A violation of CF 120 is a violation of the Consumer Fraud Act.

Here, the Attorney General alleged that SCI did not discharge substantial functions in the state but nevertheless used a Vermont address to describe its location in violation of Vermont law. “We welcome business from outside our State,” said Vermont Attorney General William H. Sorrell, “but if a company is not actually based here, it cannot legally claim otherwise.”

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