How much money are you really worth to that lead gen site? More than you think.

In Part II of this series, TY4NS dives into the murky waters of Web lead generators and reveals who's behind all those spammy infographics.

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$50 bill. Up close.

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In our last episode of TY4NS, I descended into the murky world of for-profit online universities and the anonymous intermediaries they use to lure potential students. Who was behind the infographic-happy OnlineSchools.org, I wondered, and why did they so desperately want to sell me an online degree of dubious value?

[Online degrees with the greatest of sleaze and Beware of fancy infographics–spammers may be lurking behind them]

In today’s post I’ll answer those questions. I have to admit getting these answers wasn’t easy. OnlineSchools.org was doing everything it could to mask its identity. But then I got a tip from an industry insider: Look at CollegeDegrees.com, a lead-generation site owned by Houston-based Consumer Media Network (CMN).

Sure enough, the forms for both sites were almost pixel-for-pixel copies of each other. Checking the HTML source code for OnlineSchools.org, I noted that it pulls its forms directly from the CollegeDegrees.com site via Javascript.

I know it’s hard to see this, but: OnlineSchools is on the left, CollegeDegrees on the right.

Just to be sure, I filled out a few forms at CollegeDegrees.com, whereupon I was quickly deluged with phone calls and emails from the same call centers that harangued me earlier. Connection confirmed.

This is how it goes: Once you’ve finished filling out the forms, your data is sent immediately to the universities where you’ve expressed an interest. Within minutes someone calls you to “answer any questions you might have.” If the initial caller determines you’re a serious candidate, he or she transfers you to an admissions representative who can sign you up on the spot and direct you to financial aid and other sources of payment.

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