How To Spot a Fake Diploma: Buying an Education Online
Posted by Pamela S. on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012
Jim or Jane is applying for a position with your company. They provide you with a resume, a Social Security Number, and photocopies of their credentials. Everything looks good. All fake: fake diploma, driver’s licence and birth certificate purchased
There is a booming business for all forms of identification and diplomas online. For a few hundred dollars, you too can be a Harvard graduate. Before the interview, ask your applicant to bring in the original documentation. Many people show up with photocopies. Like counterfeit money, the fakes are getting better, but there are still ways to determine if you are dealing with a phony.
Today we will talk about diplomas. There are two kinds of phony diplomas: counterfeit copies of diplomas from real accredited high schools, colleges and universities, and those from diploma mills.
A diploma mill
is an organization that provides academic diplomas and degrees for a fee, with limited, or no academic course of study. They are not accredited by any educational accrediting agency. Diploma mills advertise that you can get a degree based on life experience, or a substandard education. The United States doesn’t have a federal law prohibiting diploma mills. Many of the so called schools are located in foreign countries. Some states have passed bills restricting the awarding of degrees without accreditation.
The Federal Trade Commission is working to fight the proliferation of diplomas issued by unaccredited schools.
- More people are learning online. While many colleges and universities offer distance learning, there are schools that are set up just to pump out diplomas.
- Some of these schools have names similar to real colleges. Is the college accredited? You can verify this by checking the Council for Higher Education Accreditation website.
- Just because someone went to school overseas, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a real education. That said, many degrees from diploma mills come from schools with foreign names. Check the school website. This isn’t an indication of legitimacy, because anyone can set up a website, but look closer. There should be telltale signs this school isn’t real. Check out degree courses and other information.
- Is the school advertising or sending out spam? Accredited colleges and universities don’t advertise in this way.
- A real education costs money and takes time. If a school is offering a Bachelor’s Degree in a few months, it isn’t real.
- You won’t find any alumni association for a diploma mill, because there are no real students.
- A diploma from a degree mill may look legitimate. It may be printed on high quality paper and have a seal, but it is worthless.
Out and Out Fakes
You can also order a fake diploma online. For a price, anyone can have an MBA from Harvard. For an additional price you can also purchase a fake transcript. One company offers both for $300. Rush printing is an extra $70, for those important interviews. While the site claims that they are producing a “novelty product”, they promote the fact that you can’t tell their documents from the originals.
On the testimonial page for one of the sites, a happy customer sent this: “Thanks! I received my custom made diploma and must tell you it is absolutely stunning. It is currently framed and displayed proudly on my work desk. No one has even speculated that it is a fake. Travis, Rhode Island”
How can you tell a fake from the real thing?
- A legitimate diploma is printed on fine quality, heavyweight parchment paper.
- There should be a watermark of the school seal, which will be visible if you examine the paper under bright light.
- The seal should be raised. Look up the school online. Does it exist? Does the watermark and seal match the school seal?
- Check for any marks that would be left by a printing press of poor quality.
- The signatures of the chancellor and school secretary should be written in ink.
- Check for spelling mistakes. Sometimes you won’t notice this at a glance, but many of these diplomas come from countries where English is not the first language.
- Check that the degrees are spelled out in full. They do not use initials such as Ph.D on diplomas.
- The printing should be consistent, all the fonts should be even.
Earlier this year, Yahoo! CEO Scott Thompson lost his job when he lied about having a degree in computer science from a school that did not offer this course.
The best way to ensure that you hire someone with legitimate credentials is to have a proper pre-employment background screening conducted by a private investigation company, such as Sheer Investigations. We verify education and determine whether this person’s degree is the real thing, or a fake.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Sheer has recruited the best from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Secret Service to build a formidable team at Sheer Investigations. Our private investigators have the sensitivity and experience to handle the most delicate investigations.