Unaccredited Institutions & Distance Education Scams

Alabama Threatens to Pull University License
http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/stories/2000/10/30/story3.html
In the state of Alabama, schools that transfer ownership must undergo a review in order to determine that minimum standards are upheld. Barrington University, the flagship school of Virtual Academics.Com of Boca Raton, which is registered and incorporated in Alabama, failed to notify the state of such a change, and this article from the South Florida Business Journal outlines the situation.

AOAEx: The Association for Online Academic Excellence
http://www.aoaex.org/index2.html
AOAEx claims to have over 150 fully accredited members that may or may not have a physical campus location. Some people have considered this accrediting agency suspect due to the fact that the institutions listed do not post any affiliation to AOAx on their college sites. Schools that have asked AOAEx to remove their institution's name from the AOAEx site have not been successful. The proliferation of suspect accrediting agencies may be something to watch out for in the future.

Backalley Press.com
http://www.backalleypress.com
Backalley Press.com is a branch of Shun Luen Co., Ltd, which has been in the printing business for 17 years. They got into the diploma business in 1996, and design thousands of fake diplomas, degrees and school transcripts all made to order from universities around the world. Backalley Press.com will produce diplomas from associate degrees to doctorates, but they avoid anything involving medical school credentials. The site states that these phony documents are novelty items that are to be used for entertainment purposes only.

Bernadean University: A Mail-Order Diploma Mill
http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/Nonrecorg/bernadean.html
Bernadean University in Van Nuys, CA claims to be accredited by the World Council of Global Education, and its College of Health Science is said to be accredited by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners. The problem is that neither accrediting agency is recognized by the U. S. Secretary of Education. Even though the accreditation claims are bogus and no one has authorized them to grant degrees, Bernadean has stayed in business for 40 years. Stephen Barrett, MD, discusses the background of this institution and points out active alumni who have "graduated" from their programs in this March 19, 2002 Quackwatch report.

More information about this "institution" can be found at:

Beware of Unrecognized Degrees from Degree Mills and Diploma Mills
http://pachome1.pacific.net.sg/~chrisyeh/degmill.htm
Christopher Yeh developed this site with the goal of educating others about diploma mills. He addresses topics such as accredited versus unaccredited institutions, tactics used by degree mills, tips to help people recognize diploma mills and links to additional diploma mills resources.

Black Market Press
http://www.blackmarket-press.com
Black Market Press produces custom designed college and university transcripts and degrees for customers. This company also provides the do-it-yourself option that provides customers with templates and supplies that allows them to create their own IDs, transcripts or degrees. One interesting section of the Black Market Press site is the Underground Info pages, which offers documents, tips and guides for lock picking, identity theft and bank fraud just to name a few.

Bogus Degree Sites Shut Down
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/education/2829237.stm
Bogus institutions, operated by an Israeli man and woman, were shut down following a joint operation in the UK and the US. The institutions are thought to have made millions of pounds, and this brief article from the March 7, 2003 edition of the BBC News provides details about the investigation and the actions taken against this operation.

Bogus PhD's, Fake Degrees
http://www.bogusphd.com
Bogus PhD offers any degree from bachelor's to PhD's to specialty degrees, like law or medicine for $39.99. Their Web site states that they do not attempt to create a "reproduction", "counterfeit", "copy" or look-alike document from any legitimate or accredited institution.

ClosedCollege.com
http://closedcollege.com
Graduates of closed colleges or universities may find it difficult to prove they actually attended and graduated from that institution. In these situations, it may be difficult if not impossible to receive replacement diplomas and transcripts. ClosedCollege offers authentic replicas of diplomas and transcripts with a leather diploma cover for $225, which includes shipping costs. Their Web site states that they will not create any replacement document for open and existing institutions.

Cheap Degrees and Web-Based Fraud
http://webtools.cityu.edu.hk/news/newslett/cheapdegrees.htm
Graeme Daniel and Kevin Cox prepared this article for the November 6, 2001 Web Tools for Learning newsletter. The authors discuss who the main players are in the diploma/degree mill game, who the customer base includes, and how these "virtual institutions" get away with their scams.

Choosing Accredited Online Masters Degrees
http://www.masters-degree-online-programs.com/making_the_right_decision.htm
This site is a public service of Adams Internet Coast Professorship FAUSOA: Florida Atlantic University School of Accounting, and they provide selected articles about diploma mills and tips to help people avoid them.

College Services Corp.
http://www.graduatenow.com
College Services Corp. boasts that customers can receive a college degree in 10 days or less. Fake degrees are also available to those who do not want a "real" one. In order to qualify, people must have at least 3 years of classroom education, work experience or a combination of both. The name of the University granting the degree is not provided in order to preserve the value of the diploma.

Cooldegree
http://www.cooldegree.com
Cooldegree produces novelty diplomas, and most orders are shipped within 21 days or less. Rush orders are shipped within 72 hours. This company has been online since 1998, and they discourage any abuse or misuse of their products. Cooldegree also provides a verification service for an extra fee.

Counterfeit Credentials
http://www.techtv.com/cybercrime/internetfraud/story/0,23008,3327045,00.html
CyberCrime, a weekly show focusing on the dangers facing computer users, investigates how the Internet is making it easy to purchase fake diplomas from non-existent schools. They take a look at some of the products offered by diploma mills, discuss how diploma mills continue to stay in business and examine ways individuals can avoid being taken by these fake institutions.

Counterfeit Library
http://www.counterfeitlibrary.com/
The Counterfeit Library does not create resources but acts as a portal leading customers to fake ID, diploma and transcript sites. They provide links and ratings to featured sites, and articles dealing with ways to build a fake college ID, counterfeiting & forensic examinations and common mistakes made with fake IDs are provided.

The Dark, Satanic Diploma Mills
http://education.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4375036,00.html
British fake degree mills are infiltrating Australia, and educators in Australia are concerned about the damage they may do to legitimate institutions. Options being considered to battle these diplomas mills are discussed in this March 15, 2002 article from The Guardian.

Degree Mills
http://www.quackwatch.org/04ConsumerEducation/dm0.html
In the 1980s, the number of phony institutions dropped due to the efforts of an FBI taskforce known as "DipScam". Technological improvements and the growth of the Internet in the 1990s have reversed that downward trend. John Bear, PhD, author of "Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees by Distance Learning," a book and website that outline the pros and cons of getting an education online and his daughter Mariah Bear, MA, executive editor of Degree.net Books, examine the history of degree mills and discuss why these institution have made a come back.

Digital Diplomas
http://www.motherjones.com/mother_jones/JF01/diplomas.html
Virtual universities are becoming big businesses, and many like Arthur Levine, President of Columbia University's Teachers College, believe that these initiatives may not only improve but eventually replace the traditional university. This article from the Jan./Feb. 2001 issue of Mother Jones explores the growth and controversies surrounding online education.

Diploma Forgery Goes Electronic in China; Scholarship Fund in South Africa Is Robbed
http://chronicle.com/weekly/v48/i04/04a03902.htm
In an attempt to battle the increasing number of fake diplomas, the Chinese Ministry of Education implemented a new electronic registration system for university diplomas. This brief Chronicle of Higher Education article takes a look at this system and how counterfeiters have been able to circumvent it.

Diploma Mill Crackdown: Officials Vow End to Feds' Use of Suspect Degrees
http://federaltimes.com/index.php?S=2919147
In June, Laura Callahan, the senior director of the Homeland Security Department's chief information office, was placed on administrative leave. It was revealed that Callahan had received her doctorate degree, as well as her bachelor's and master's, from an unaccredited institution. Details about how this action was just the beginning of what turned out to be an 11 month investigation and the steps that may be taken to stop the use of diploma mills are presented in this article that was published in the May 17, 2004 issue of FederalTimes.com.

Diploma Mills: Federal Employees have Obtained Degrees from Diploma Mills and Other Unaccredited Schools, Some at Government Expense
http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04771t.pdf
An investigation was conducted to determine whether federal employees had obtained degrees from institutions that are considered to be diploma mills. The findings can be found in the testimony before the U. S. Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. The document was published on May 11, 2004.

Diploma Mills: How to Spot Them and Why You Should Avoid Them Like the Plague!
http://www.degreefinders.com/diplomamills.html
Almost anyone can set up a phony university Web site, print official-looking documents and charge customers hefty fees for university diplomas. Rodney L. Merrill, founder and degree consultant for DegreeFinders.com, created this site and provides information about diploma mills. Merrill believes that some people who get a degree mill diploma do not realize the potential ramification of their actions, and he provides tips on how people can avoid getting caught up in the scam. Links to articles and testimonies from people who were victims of diploma mills are also provided.

Diploma Mills: The $200 Million a Year Competitor You Didn't Know You Had
http://www.degree.net/html/diploma_mills.html
John Bear, an author who for 12 years was the FBI's principal consultant and expert witness on diploma mills and fake degrees, takes a look at the villains (perpetrators, customers, media and law enforcement) and the victims (unknowing customers, employers, public and legitimate schools) of diploma mills in an attempt to understand the current situation many higher education institutions are facing. He also examines things that can be done and offers suggestions for fighting the bad guys.

Diploma Scam Alleged at Kenyan (subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Education required to access)
http://chronicle.com/weekly/v48/i25/25a04001.htm
Twenty-one people associated with a syndicate were arrested and charged with making and selling fake diplomas at the Ministry of Education headquarters. This article from the March 1, 2002 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education details other phony documents impounded during this investigation by the police, and provides information about how this investigation began.

Diplomas for Dollars
http://www.chicagotribune.com/technology/chi-021112diploma,0,3991922.story
Stephen Corbin, a licensed architect, always wanted a college degree, but he could never find the time to complete the course work required in most traditional academic programs. This November 12, 2002 article from the Chicago Tribune takes a look at diploma mills that are operating on the Internet, and discusses the course of action Corbin had to take to get a diploma from the University of San Moritz.

Diplomas for Less
http://www.diplomasforless.com
Diplomas for Less is a diploma and transcript replacement service that provides documents from U. S. high schools, colleges and universities with no proof of graduation required. They have a buy-one-get-one free policy, but they do not offer any verification services. The company does try to follow all applicable state and federal laws, and certain state regulations prohibit Diplomas for Less from offering replacement diplomas or transcripts to residents of Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont or Washington, D.C.

Distance Learning and You
http://www.pbs.org/als/dlweek/dlandyou/faq.htm
This site from the Virtual University Gazette's FAQ on Distance Learning and posted on the PBS Distance Learning page provides a brief section on diploma mills and accreditation.

Distance Learning Scams
http://www.edu.supanet.com/dl2.html
Distance Learning Scams is a section on the Education Site pages, and it describes diploma mills, their victims and accomplices. Tips on how to avoid distance learning scams are also provided.

Down by the Diploma Mills Stream
http://www.wired.com/news/school/0,1383,54596,00.html
Harrington University, possibly one of the largest diploma mills in the world, will grant a bachelor's or master's degree to anyone willing to hand over thousands of dollars. Harrington is merely one of thousands of "institutions" of this nature, and the proliferation of these diploma mills has gotten worse. This Wired article from August 28, 2002 discusses some of the efforts that have been implemented or are being considered in an attempt to put diploma mills out of business.

Evaluate Schools
http://www.degree.net/guides/checking_out2.html
Degree.net designed this site to help students evaluate schools. The five-step procedure outlined at this site is posted to guide students investigate and evaluate schools. Contact information for agencies that license, regulate or are concerned with higher education are also provided.

Fake College Diplomas Online in Ten Days
http://www.yourdegreenow.com/index.htm
This is another diploma mill site that boasts real diplomas available in 10 days or less. Like many other companies of this nature, fake diplomas are also available for those who do not want a "real" diploma. In order to qualify for one of their real diplomas, customers must have at least 3 years of either classroom education, work experience or a combination of the two.

Fake Degrees a Serious Problem for Employers
http://www.iccwbo.org/ccs/news_archives/2000/fake_degrees.asp
More and more companies are finding that job applicants are falsifying academic records in order to secure jobs or promotions. This article, posted by ICC Commercial Crime Services, examines the various types of diploma mills and discusses how this growing phenomena is becoming a serious problem for many companies.

Fake Degrees to Be Investigated
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/3867037.stm
The Guardian reports that "authentic-looking" certificates from institutions like Oxford University and Strathclyde are available from a Web site. These reports have raised concerns with the education committee, and they plan to ask Charles Clarke, the Education Secretary, to investigate the situation. Next steps and plans for action are discussed in this July 5, 2004 article from the BBC.com.

Fake Diplomas at BoxFreeConcepts.com
http://www.boxfreeconcepts.com/fake/diplomas.html
BoxFreeConcepts.com provides 3 fake diploma designs that allow users to create their own diplomas for free at this site. Additional templates to create fake diplomas and other related documents are also provided for a fee. Most of the for-fee products cost between $5 and $10.

Magic Mill is one example of some of the free BoxFreeConcepts.com products, and can be accessed at http://www.boxfreeconcepts.com/magicmill/.

Fake Diplomas College Degrees Transcripts High School Novelty Counterfeit Phony Forms Papers Documents
http://www.diplomareplacementservice.com
This site states that they produce the "absolute highest quality items available anywhere." The disclaimer notes that these documents are intended for "novelty and entertainment use only", and are not designed to be presented as legitimate documents. Prices range from $100 for a high school diploma to $225 for a completed PhD college transcript.

Fake Diplomas.com
http://www.fakediplomas.com/
Fake Diplomas.com claims to be the "best portal for novelty documents", and they provide fake diplomas, degrees, transcripts, certificates, IDs and other documents. Membership is required to access materials found at this site and costs $39. In order to be considered for membership, a high quality diploma, transcript, drivers license or other related document must be e-mailed to Fake Diplomas.com.

Fake Degrees
http://fakedegrees.com
Fake Degrees provides members with the "largest range of custom made degrees, diplomas, and certificates". Membership is required to access the services provided at this site, and a fee of $75 gives customers 6 months access to the Member's Area, Certificate Creator, Online Documents, Online Products and other Member Resources. No fake IDs or drivers licenses are available at this site, but sections for transcripts and letters of reference/recommendation are coming soon. None of the documents provided at this site are intended for use in "any matters perpetrating fraud or dishonesty."

Fakeid Souvenirs Award Winning Site
http://www.souveniridcards.com
"Authentic novelty" IDs and diplomas from any country can be obtained from this company. One statement on the site says, "Become ANYONE you want!", but these novelty items are not intended for illegal use.

A Federal Rule Bedevils Online Institutions
http://chronicle.com/prm/weekly/v50/i16/16a02901.htm
The 50-percent rule was passed in 1992 in an attempt to thwart the efforts of diploma mills and fraudulent correspondence courses, but many believe this law has actually hampered efforts of legitimate distance education institutions. This article from the December 12, 2003 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education discusses the coverage of the 50-percent rule, and the push from several lawmakers to put an end to this law or at least severely weaken it. What changes in the 50-percent rule mean to online education institutions and their students are also addressed.

General Delivery University (GDU)
http://www.bandersnatch.com/gduedu.htm
General Delivery University claims to be "America's only genuine diploma mill" and their mission is to "provide the opportunity for the acquisition of the appearance of a comprehensive education and semi-useful skills, without the necessity of wasting a lot of time attending boring classes, and without the exorbitant cost of tuition." GDU does not hide the fact that it is merely a semblance of an university and makes no attempt to provide substantive programs.

Government Inundated with Phony Degrees
http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=13075
Thousands of government employees have used phony degrees to secure jobs or obtain promotions. This June 25, 1999 WorldNetDaily.com article by investigative reporter David M. Bresnahan examines some of the diploma mills that grant degrees based on work or life experiences, and discusses loopholes in state and federal laws that allow many of these companies to stay in business.

How Online Degrees Work
http://biz.howstuffworks.com/online-degree3.htm
Diploma mills, companies that range from institutions that count life experience toward degrees or ones that merely sell diplomas online, have been around for decades. Lee Ann Obringer discusses ways some states are starting to crack down on these non-accredited institutions and offers tips for avoiding these schools.

Illinois Board Backs Plan to Fight Phony Degrees (subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Education required to access)
http://chronicle.com/weekly/v48/i32/32a03603.htm
In April 2002, the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) voted unanimously in support of a bill designed to discourage people from purchasing fake degrees and transcripts. If passed, this legislation would make using phony transcripts, diplomas or other documents to secure a job or promotion a Class A misdemeanor.

Is the Internet Becoming a Bonanza for Diploma Mills?
http://chronicle.com/data/articles.dir/art-44.dir/issue-17.dir/17a02201.htm
As online education becomes more popular, diploma mills find that their student enrollment figures continue to increase. Many believe the Internet has given new life to this once dying trend. This article from the December 19, 1997 issues of the Chronicle of Higher Education addresses some of the aspects of diploma mills that are often confusing to many students looking for online degree programs and ways these "institutions" are being exposed for what they really are.

Is the Internet Becoming a Haven for Diploma Mills?
http://www.bbb.org/library/diplomamills.asp
The Better Business Bureau posted this site that offers suggestions designed to help students identify diploma mills plus information about who to contact if there are still doubts about a particular institution.

Kansas Authorities Investigating Monticello University
http://www.kcstar.com/item/pages/home.pat,local/3773c307.812,.html
The state of Kansas has found that it is harder to locate Monticello University and its operator, Leslie Edwin Snell, than it is to sign up for one of their bachelor's degree that can be completed in 10 months for $4000. Kansas filed a lawsuit against Monticello University, Snell and other Snell operations for violating the Kansas Consumer Protection Act. This article from the August 12, 1999 edition of the Kansas City Star discusses the background of Monticello University and the case surrounding this diploma mill.

Learner Beware
http://www.pbs.org/netlearning/accredit.html
Some institutions offering alternatives to the traditional classroom are legitimate while others are not. Tips for students considering some of the new distance education offerings are provided at this PBS net.Learning site.

Mail-Order Bachelors
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,4982510%255E23004,00.html
There are numerous diploma mills lurking on the Internet. Services provided from these "institutions" range from the basic design-your-own certificate or diploma to degrees granted based on your present knowledge or work experience. In some cases, $300 can buy a validated bachelor's degree in a variety of fields, while others charge up to $2000 for master's and doctorate degrees. This article from the March 13, 2002 issue of The Australian discusses diploma mills, the varieties that are available on the Internet, and why no one has shut them down yet.

Make Your Own Degrees
http://www.myodegrees.com
This is a site that allows members to build their own novelty degrees, diplomas and certificates by printing or downloading templates, images and logos. At this time, they are no longer accepting members, and refer potential customers to fakedegrees.com at http://www.fakedegrees.com/.

Moonlighting for an Unaccredited University
http://chronicle.com/weekly/v48/i31/31a03501.htm
Kennedy-Western University, an unaccredited online institution with a questionable reputation, has enticed some professors at traditional accredited institution to join their "academic underground". This article that appeared in the April 12, 2002 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education takes a look at why some professors are drawn to this institution, and why some will not admit it to their colleagues and employers.

New Zealand Universities Consider Lawsuit Against Sites Selling Diplomas in Their Names
http://www.physics.utoronto.ca/~peet/ofinterest/cheNZ.htm
This brief Chronicle of Higher Education article from February 11, 2002 discusses actions being taken by a group of New Zealand universities against two Web sites, fakedegrees.com and its British counterpart, that sell fake degrees in the name of the New Zealand institutions.

David F. Noble

North Dakota Contemplates a Law Prohibiting the Use of Fake Degrees
http://chronicle.com/free/2003/01/2003011501t.htm
In the near future, it may be a Class A misdemeanor to use a fake degree in the state of North Dakota for employment, education or personal gain. The number of diploma mills is growing, and lawmakers like North Dakota Rep. RaeAnn G. Kelsch believe that this type of bill may help protect consumers and raise public awareness. This article from the January 15, 2003 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education discusses the North Dakota proposal and addresses why there may be confusion surrounding some diploma mills.

On the Web, It's Easy to Earn Straight A's
http://chronicle.com/free/v49/i22/22a02501.htm
More and more sites selling fake college diplomas and transcripts are popping up on the Web, and there is little that victimized institutions can do to stop these businesses. Steps institutions are taking to reduce instances of fraud and ways employers are guarding themselves against receiving phony credentials are discussed in this article from the February 7, 2003 issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Online University Hears the Cat's Meow in Consumer-Fraud Lawsuit Over Bogus Degree (subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Education required to access)
http://chronicle.com/prm/daily/2004/12/2004120805n.htm
A few months ago, Colby, a short-haired cat, received an M.B.A. from an online university, and this accomplishment resulted in a lawsuit being filed in Pennsylvania on Monday, December 8, 2004 against the institution that granted the degree. The cat's owner, Kathryn Silcon of the Pennsylvania attorney general's office, got involved in this "project" after Microsoft approached her office about illegal spammers. Colby's college experiences and details about the lawsuit are discussed in this December 8, 2004 article from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Out of a Cracker Jack Box
http://209.125.88.134/new/apr01/feature4.htm
Some institutions, like NYU, do not distinguish between online and offline degrees on student transcripts, but this is not the case with all institutions. Do employers consider online degrees to be as credible as ones earned in a traditional classroom setting? Do HR departments even recognize when candidates like diploma mills on their resume? Chris Jones, assistant editor of OnlineLearning Magazine discusses employer perception of online degrees and offers tips to increase the credibility of these degrees.

Phony Degrees a Hot Net Scam
http://www.wired.com/news/print/0,1294,35068,00.html
Diploma mills are growing rapidly over the Internet. Some of these "institutions" offer degrees based on "life experience" while others simply sell customers a customized diploma. The growing phenomena of diploma mills and some of their "other" victims are discusses in this March 23, 2000 article from Wired.

Phony Diplomas
http://www.phonydiploma.com
Phony Diplomas offer three different types of diplomas: 1) Good diplomas for $64.95; 2) Better diplomas for $79.95; and 3) Best diplomas for $99.95. The diplomas available from this site are not designed to duplicate or reproduce diplomas from legitimate schools and are to be used for "entertainment purposes" only.

Phony IDs and Credentials via the Internet: An Emerging Problem
http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=106_senate_hearings&docid=f:64986.wais
This report is from the Hearing before the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigation of the Committee on Governmental Affairs of the United States Senate on May 19, 2000. The Subcommittee conducted a 5-month investigation of more than 60 Web sites that either distributed fake IDs or provided computer templates that allowed customers to make their own. This report discusses the Subcommittee's findings.

Proposed Legislation to Prohibit the Use of Fake Degrees
http://www.ibhe.state.il.us/Board/Agendas/2002/April/Item%207.pdf
This April 2, 2002 document was designed to convince members of the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) to endorse the passage of legislation that would address the use of fake Illinois degrees. It highlights degree providers that are advertising fake degrees from Illinois institutions such as Illinois State University, Illinois Valley Community College and Illinois Benedictine University, and outlines the proposed language for the Fake Degrees Amendment.

Reality Check for Virtual Academics.com
http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/stories/2000/10/16/story2.html
Virtual Academics.com, an up-and-coming firm in the distance learning field seems to have done everything right in starting up their online institution, well almost everything. Findings uncovered in a Business Journal investigation about this institution and its chairman, Robert K. Bettinger, are discussed in this article.

Red Flags to Watch for When Choosing Distance Education Programs
http://www.petersons.com/distancelearning/code/articles/distancelearnquality5.asp
Charlotte Thomas, the Career and Education Editor at Peterson's, acknowledges that checking the quality of online courses poses challenges to many consumers. In this article, Thomas discusses 12 red flags to watch out for when searching for legitimate online courses and programs.

State Wants Diploma Mills Down
http://www.bizjournals.com/pacific/stories/2002/07/29/story3.html
Many people find online institutions to be a education alternative that allows them to fulfill their lifelong learning needs and professional development goals. Problems arise when some of the institutions providing these alternatives, like Pacific Western University, have no merit in the academic world. This article from the Business Journal addresses the concept of diploma mills, and discusses some of the legal issues plaguing Pacific Western University.

States Struggle to Regulate Online Colleges That Lack Accreditation
http://chronicle.com/free/v47/i28/28a03401.htm
States like Wyoming, Montana and Hawaii allow unaccredited online universities to do business as long as they maintain a presence in that state. Others, like Oregon, are cracking down on these institutions in an attempt to regulate them. This March 23, 2001 article from the Chronicle of Higher Education points out some of the more well-known culprits, and discusses ways some states are dealing with these virtual universities.

Information about three accrediting agencies not recognized by the U. S. Department of Education is also provided, and they include:

  1. American Council of Private Colleges and Universities (accredits Hamilton University)
    http://www.acpcu.org/

  2. Association for Online Academic Excellence (accredits Trinity College & University and others)
    http://www.aoaex.org/index2.html

  3. World Association of Universities and Colleges (accredits Cambridge State University, Columbus University and others)
    http://www.web-hed.com/wauc/

States Try to Crack Down on Diploma Mills (must be subscribed to the Chronicle of Higher Education to access)
http://chronicle.com/prm/weekly/v50/i17/17a02601.htm
Diploma mills have boosted their business initiatives, and this has caused many states to work even harder to snuff out the efforts of these "illegal business." This article form the December 19, 2003 edition of The Chronicle of Higher Education discusses steps some states, like Illinois, Indiana, and New Jersey have taken to stop the use of fake degrees. Enforcement issues, the strategy of going after buyers, and an unclear definition of a diploma mill are also addressed.

Taking Aim at Diploma Mills, Education Department Creates Online List of Accredited Colleges (must be subscribed to the Chronicle of Higher Education to access)
http://chronicle.com/prm/daily/2005/02/2005020203n.htm
Last year, it was discovered that a number of federal employees listed unaccredited institutions on their resumes. Congress wanted to take action against entities such as diploma mills, and called on the U.S. Department of Education to develop a list that would help students identify credible institutions. The list of 6,900 institutions was launched on Tuesday, February 1, 2005, and this article from the February 2, 2005 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education, outlines the nature of the site in greater detail. The site, "Postsecondary Educational Institutions and Programs Accredited by Accrediting Agencies and State Approval Agencies Recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education" is accessible at http://www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation/.

Wired News also posted an article on February 2, 2005 about the new "searchable online database" site. The full text of "Database Fights Diploma Mills" can be found at http://www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation/.

Teachers Net Pay Hike with Bogus Degrees
http://www.cnn.com/2004/EDUCATION/05/04/bogus.degrees.ap/
After the state of Georgia checked the records of its teachers this spring, it found that 11 held advanced degrees from Saint Regis, a Liberia-based diploma mill. The No Child Left Behind Act has placed great value on advanced degrees for teachers, and the diploma mill issue has surfaced in Georgia and a number of other states. Details about the Georgia investigation and the impact the diploma mill problem has made in a number of states are outlined in the May 4, 2004 article from CNN.com.

Additional information about teachers coming under scrutiny for academic integrity violations is also addressed in a May 6, 2004 article in the Independent (UK). The article titled "US Teachers Buying Fake Degrees in Order to Qualify for a Pay Rise" can be accessed at http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/story.jsp?story=518584.

Tips to Avoid Getting Cheated in Distance Learning
http://www.gnacademy.org/mason/guides/cheat.html
Dr. Joseph Wang, president of Globalwide Network Academy, posts tips to help people distinguish legitimate institutions from those that may be "too good to be true".

Top 10 Diploma Mills
http://web.archive.org/web/19991117023500/http://cust3.iamerica.net/easywave/top10.htm
This site defines a diploma mills as an "institution offering post-secondary degrees which claims an unrecognized accreditation or makes materially false claims as to the acceptance of their degrees". Based on that definition, the developers of this site have compiled a list of the top ten "institutions" that qualify as diploma mills. Descriptions of some of the institutions are also provided.

Top 10 Signs You May be Dealing with a Diploma Mill
http://web.archive.org/web/19990128221358/www.usnews.com/usnews/nycu/28dipbox.htm
Mary Lord developed this David Letterman-like list for U. S. News Online. Ten clues are provided to help people know whether or not a particular online institution is legitimate or actually a diploma mill.

Tulane U. Fires an Instructor Who Claimed a Doctorate from a Diploma Mill (subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Education required to access)
http://chronicle.com/prm/daily/2004/08/2004080301n.htm
Wayne J. delCorral, a finance instructor at Tulane University, was fired weeks after the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article (June 25, 2004 - http://chronicle.com/prm/weekly/v50/i42/42a00901.htm) about diploma mills. The article indicated that delCorral obtained his Ph.D. from Lacrosse University. At one time, Lacrosse University, which qualifies as a diploma mill, was based in Louisiana, but the state did not renew its license. Reactions from Tulane administrators can be found in this August 3, 2004 article from the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Additional information about Lacrosse University, can be found in this August 1, 2004 article, titled, "Mailbox U." from the Times-Picayune. It can be accessed at http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-1/10913523177770.xml.

U. of Louisiana at Lafayette Fires Basketball Coach with Bogus Degrees (subscription to the Chronicle of Higher Education required to access)
http://chronicle.com/prm/daily/2004/07/2004071905n.htm
Glynn Cyprien, the new men's basketball coach at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, was fired after campus officials discovered that he attended, but never graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a bachelor's degree. It was also discovered that Cyprien's other degrees were from a diploma mill. Additional information about Cyprien's career and details about this case can be found in the July 19, 2004 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Unaccredited Degree Holders Fool Public
http://abcnews.go.com/sections/GMA/GoodMorningAmerica/GMA010516Diploma_mills2.html
ABC's Good Morning America consumer correspondent, Greg Hunter, has filed stories in the past addressing the issue of diploma mills and the threat they pose to accredited schools. In Hunter's latest report, he investigates several people in prestigious positions who actually purchased their degrees through a diploma mill.

Unaccredited Degrees
http://pachome1.pacific.net.sg/~chrisyeh/degmill1.htm
Christopher Yen has put together this list of institutions that are not recognized by accrediting agencies in the U. S. He also points out some institutions that do not truly qualify as diploma mills but are still unaccredited.

Unaccredited Institution Challenges Oregon's Diploma-Mill Law in Federal Court (must be subscribed to the Chronicle of Higher Education to access)
http://chronicle.com/prm/daily/2004/08/2004081001n.htm
Kennedy-Western University, an unaccredited institution based in Wyoming, believes that an Oregon law violates the First Amendment. According to the Oregon law, individuals are prohibited from listing diploma mill degrees on their resumes, and Kennedy-Western believe that this "prevents Kennedy-Western graduates from finding work in Oregon." Details about this lawsuit can be found in the August 10, 2004 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Oregon's Office of Degree Authorization has also posted a comprehensive list of diploma mills on their Web site, and it can be accessed at http://www.osac.state.or.us./oda/.

Unaccredited Institutions or Not Recommended Institutions
http://teleeducation.nb.ca/content/articles/english/accreditation/unaccredited-institutions.html
TeleEducation New Brunswick created this list of institutions that are not included in their TeleCampus Online Courses Database (http://courses.telecampus.edu/subjects/index.cfm) . They recommend that people exercise caution when taking courses from any institution on the list.

Underground-Review.com
http://www.underground-review.com/F_DIPLOMA.html
Underground-Review.com began as merely a fake ID site that grew to include fake diplomas due to contributions from visitors to the site. It is designed for informational purposes and provides links to fake diploma Web sites, company locations, prices, ratings and reviews of their operations.

Unrecognized Accrediting Agencies in the U.S.
http://teleeducation.nb.ca/content/articles/francais/accreditation/unrecognized-accreditating-agencies.html
This TeleEducation New Brunswick site lists suspect accrediting agencies in the U. S. College and universities accredited by any agency on this list may not be accepted or recognized as a legitimate institution.

Virtual Whatever
http://www.bizjournals.com/southflorida/stories/2000/10/30/editorial2.html
Reporters at the South Florida Business Journal began looking into Virtual Academic.com in early October 2000. More and more questions surfaced as they continued investigating this institution, and they filed this second report on October 27, 2000 that discusses some of these questions. It also addresses claims made in the company's literature about their chairman and information about the agency that accredited this institution.

What's a Diploma Worth http://www.ishn.com/CDA/ArticleInformation/features/BNP__Features__Item/0,2162,3155,00.html
In 1990, Dan Markiewiez, an independent environmental health & safety consultant, completed his study of the prevalence of bogus credentials. At that time, he found that approximately 3% of all doctoral degrees in occupational safety & health and related areas came from diploma or degree mills. Markiewiez believes that this number has increased over the years, and discusses some theories as to why people seek out the services of these illegitimate services.

The Virtual Battleground
http://education.guardian.co.uk/elearning/story/0,10577,629487,00.html
Students can buy many items via the Internet to assist them in their academic endeavors, from pre-written term papers to fake degrees, and universities around the world are finding themselves in a battle against the Internet. This January 8, 2002 article from the Guardian Unlimited discusses ways universities are trying to utilize the benefits associated with this new technology while maintaining academic integrity standards.

The Virtual University Gazette's FAQ on Distance Learning and Accreditation and College Degrees
http://www.geteducated.com/articles/dlfaq.htm#Q9
This section of The Virtual University Gazette's FAQ discusses characteristics of a diploma mill.

World's Biggest Diploma Mill Brazenly Steps It Up
http://www.degree.net/news.htm
In the past, diploma mills only listed phony institutions on the diplomas they sold to customers. Glencullen University has broken out of this mold and has begun to forge diplomas from legitimate institutions. This Degree.net site also provides other diploma mill news and related information.

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Created by Sharon Stoerger MLS, MBA
©November 10, 2002

Updated February 6, 2005