Diploma Mills: The Stealth Ninjas of Online Educationby Marie Feldman
January 22, 2010
Think Diploma Mills are easy to spot? Think again. Read on to learn these surprising facts about these fake schools that many potential students do not know.
1. There are two types of diploma mills: those that flat-out sell diplomas and other types of degrees for cash, and those that pretend to be legitimate schools by falsely convincing web users they are an actual accredited school. Both types of these degree mills are dangerous; however, the type of diploma mill that fools an unsuspecting student is more dangerous in that its "customers" have no idea they are actually being scammed.
2. Diploma mills pretend to be accredited, but by agencies that are not officially recognized. Diploma mills will literally make up names of accredited agencies that don't even exist! Unless the accreditation agency they are referring to on their website is approved by The Department of Education, be cautious in trusting that this supposed school actually earned its accreditation status.
3. Fake Schools often charge students a lump sum up front. Keep in mind that most accredited, reputable schools charge students per class, especially when it comes to online classes. If you're asked for a lump sum of money, be suspicious. This is not the norm when it comes to paying for your online education.
4. In the last few years, diploma mills have become a major source of fraud. These fake schools make up a multi-million dollar industry that makes a profit off deception. There are not "only a few" diploma mills out there--they are everywhere on the web and are started by people who live all over the world. Diploma mills can advertise all kinds of degrees, from an online high school diploma to an online MBA degree, so it is crucial to be aware that they do exist.
5. Black market, fake diplomas date back to as early as the 14th century in Europe. Roughly 200,000 bogus degrees are awarded to students, or "customers" around the world on an annual basis.
6. "In 2003 and 2004, the Government Accountability Office surveyed just a handful of agencies and found 463 federal employees with fraudulent degrees", according to Wired magazine.
7. Diploma mills prey on this consumer statistic: a college degree is the second-most expensive purchase people will make over the course of their lives.
8. Fake schools also prey on this alarming statistic: During the 2007 to 2008 school year, the average cost of a public school was $25,000. At a private school, $95,000 is the selling price, according to The College Board.