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Where Darwin was a 'naturist'

A chain of US private schools peddled phoney diplomas to thousands of immigrants, teaching them that the Second World War lasted from 1938 to 1942, America has 53 states and Charles Darwin was a "naturist".

US government agents raided the Los Angeles headquarters of California Alternative High School on August 5, days after California Attorney General Bill Lockyer sued the school for $32 million (pound;17m) on behalf of victims, mostly poor Mexican immigrants, who were charged $1,450 for 10-week, 30-hour courses leading to a "useless certificate".

The school was run by a bogus doctor who was sacked from a local college in 1994 for immoral conduct, refusing to obey rules, acts of dishonesty and being unfit for service, legal documents said.

"Dr" Daniel Gossai told students he was fulfilling a "calling from God to help the Hispanic population get out of poverty".

"This scam is especially disturbing because it exploits immigrants trying to improve their life through education," said Lockyer.

"What's worse, these rip-off artists cloaked their con in religious faith."

Students received a 54-page workbook riddled with errors and rambling philosophising.

They learned that officials had not got round to updating the US flag to include three additional states, Alaska, Hawaii (when in fact both are already included in America's 50 actual states) and Puerto Rico (only a US protectorate), and that Congress had separate houses for Republicans and Democrats.

Calls to three numbers Gossai was listed at went unanswered, and his lawyer declined comment. He and his wife amassed a fleet of six cars and $1.5m worth of property through the scam, court papers said.

Gossai also had a yen for "inspirational" speeches and fancied himself as a philosopher.

"Emotions directed for immediate pleasure is death pasture," reads one workbook entry.

"Where is the morality in living with someone where there is no successful future but great sex, as they call it?" reads another.

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