Diploma mill recipient Coach Drew Johansen, center, with two Olympic athletes.
Drew Johansen coached the U.S. dive team to Olympic glory in 2012. He is the king of swim coaches, according to a press release issued by Indiana University via Swim World Magazine last month after IU lured Coach Johansen away from rival Duke University.
A network of diploma mills operating under the brand name of Belford suffered a financial blow after a federal court in Michigan mandated a $22.7 million payout to duped students who bought the group's fake GED diplomas and college degrees. Belford High School andBelford University—both owned by Pakistani businessman Salem Kureshi—lost a federal class-action lawsuit for selling scam credentials to students. Now the Belford gorup of schools must make financial amends to their duped alumni in what authorities have ruled a degree mill scam involving several Internet domains, all operating under the Belford tagline.
On Aug. 31, 2012, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ordered Kureshi and his co-defendants to pay $22.7 million in a lawsuit settlement to Belford students in compensation for selling unaccredited diplomas and degrees. The Belford scam encompassed 30,500 plaintiffs living in the U.S. who purchased a fake diploma from Belford High School or Belford University from 2003 to 2009, at the start of the lawsuit.
According to reports published in the University World News, the worst mass murderer in Norwegian history, Anders Behring Breivik,funded his killing sprees by operating a fake diploma and college credentials business online. The fake diplomas were hand-crafted in Asia to look as if they had been issued by Ivy League universities in the USA.
Breivik, the notorious gunman who killed 77 innocent young campers on Utoya Island, Norway, admits to having netted over a million dollars by running a racket that cranked out fake diplomas online.
The fraud catered largely to buyers from the United States. Brejvik sold a reported 200 fake diploma packets a month to Internet shoppers.
An online report published by the Alabama Press-Registerdetails how James Lowe, appointed president of Bishop State in 2008, earned his doctorate life experience degree from San Francisco Technical University, an unaccredited online college that no longer exists.
Richard Hardin, a researcher for the Alabama Cooperative for Public Education (ACOPE), based in Mobile, Alabama, has authored an eye-opening report about degree mills and state college employment practices. The report, which appears in TheAmerican Reporter, alleges that several Alabama state college systems are knowingly being run by presidents or chief academic officers whose PhD degrees have been issued by scam degree mills that specialize in selling bogus life experience degrees.
Missouri has passed a law that makes it illegal to use fake degrees, transcripts or credentials when applying for work or engaging in business in the State of Missouri.
The law was drafted in response to specific cases of employment fraud in the state involving false transcripts and academic degrees from college degree mills.
In one case, the University of Missouri-Columbia caught a job applicant submitting false doctorate transcripts from the university to secure employment at a health care facility.
In another high profile case, a couple from St. Charles, Missouri submitted false records from Lindenwood University andSt. Charles Community colleges, both real universities, in an effort to secure state teaching jobs.
In May of 2009, GetEducated.com’s Diploma Mill Police mascot, Chester Ludlow, a pug dog, purchased an online “Life Experience Degree” from Rochville University.
Chester received a fake diploma from Rochville that certified his graduation from the unaccredited online college. Chester's story made national news, warning online students to beware of diploma mill scams.
Now, over a year later, "Washington Post" reporter Neely Tucker investigates another infamous Rochville University alum, William M. Drumheller III, a Virginia minister at the Harrisonburg Church of Christ. The "Post" reports that the minister has been convicted of murder, along with sexual misconduct and running a Medicare scam.
A Florida police chief has resigned his position after admitting he bought two fake online degrees from Youngsfield University, a reputed college diploma mill.
Mark Isom, former Chief of Police in Fruitland Park, Florida, signed an agreement last week with the Attorney's General's office forfeiting his certification to work in law enforcement. Youngsfield University, which maintains a mailing address in the United Kingdom and New York, awards degrees based on life experience credit. The school is not accredited to award degrees by any agency in the USA or abroad.
In a pre-trail agreement drafted by the Attorney General's office, Isom admitted he never took actual courses from the degree mill, and that he knew the online school, which awarded him two degrees in criminal justice, was not accredited by any recognized agency.
Steven B. Feldman, age 60, has been accused of using a degree mill, Hamilton University, an online college which markets life experience degrees, to obtain counseling credentials and secure a job thereafter as a Saratoga County Family Court mental health counselor.
The diploma mill fraud charges were brought by New York State in June. Feldman, who resides in Saratoga Springs, New York, was paid more than $10,000 by the court system to evaluate indigents for psychological and mental status.
The University of Newcastle, an online college diploma mill that was recently closed in the UK, has opened a new website which cites operations in the United States: Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Established in October of 2006 and operated out of a pub in Manchester, UK, this unaccredited university provided phony diplomas to 1,797 students—netting almost 2 million pounds (equivalent to a little over $3 million), according to a recent report in the London Times. Eight students who received these phony degrees have been arrested for alleged connections to Al-Qaeda, the Times reported.
Over the last four years, the University of Newcastle claimed distance degree operations in Ireland, the UK, and the South Pacific.
Facing prosecution in Britain, the degree mill recently moved its primary address to the U.S., citing Washington, D.C. as its chief center of operation.
Clayton College of Natural Health — an unaccredited online school in Birmingham, AL — is closing.
The private, for-profit online school had been offering bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees in holistic health and nutrition since the late 1990s. About 3,000 students across the U.S. were enrolled in the non-accredited school at the time of the announcement in July.
TV station WWLTV is reporting that Columbus University online of Louisiana, a non accredited online school, is the target of an FBI investigation for diploma mill fraud and the selling of fake diplomas online.
The FBI alleges the school is being run from prison by former state Senator of Louisiana, Michael O'Keefe Sr., 78, who served in office for 24 years before being sentenced to federal prison for stealing from an insurance company, according to WWLTV.
We've all seen the spam. Makes no difference if you live in the urban United States or outer Australia. The "buy a degree" scam has gone global.
Diploma mills, which offer consumers a chance to buy online degrees (rather than earn them), are no longer a problem that is limited to the United States. As Judith Eaton, director of the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), states, the world is suffering from a global epidemic of fake online degree providers:
"Degree mills and false credentialing are a serious problem worldwide, harming students, society and legitimate higher education."
Fake online colleges that lure consumers in with the promise they can buy a degree online, fast and for a few hundred dollars, are thriving. These diploma mills, often advertised as operating from headquarters in the U.S. while mailing credentials and diplomas from mail boxes overseas, represent a global problem that is being emboldened by several economic and social factors.
Sixty-seven former students of Warren National University have filed a lawsuit in the Laramie County District Court in Wyoming claiming they were misled by the online university, reports the Associated Press.
Many are now calling the online nonaccredited college a diploma or degree mill.
Warren National, which was headquartered in Cheyenne, shuttered its virtual doors this spring after failing to achieve regional accreditation and having its license revoked by the state of Wyoming. As a result, former online students have been left holding worthless pieces of paper, questionable diplomas rather than the online degrees for which they paid thousands of dollars. The lawsuit states online students paid average annual tuition of $6,000 to $12,000, while Warren National University's owners took in $25 million to $30 million in tuition revenue each year.
Newport International University, a non accredited college headquartered in Laramie, Wyoming, has ceased operation in that state. This closure follows the failure of Newport to win a lawsuit against the state of Wyoming related to distance learning accreditation and the regulation of degree mills in Wyoming.
Warren National University, of Wyoming, announced in February that it will no longer accept online students. Warren National, originally known as Kennedy-Western University, began offering online degrees in the 1980s. The online college operated from California and Idaho before migrating to Wyoming in an effort to keep ahead of changing state laws on diploma mills.
Colby Nolan, a black cat, brought new meaning to the term "educational pedigree" when, in 2004, he “earned” an MBA online from Trinity Southern University of Plano, Texas. Trinity awarded the cat a MBA degree based on a review of his work experience.
The feline applied for his bachelor's in business online but a review by the Texas degree mill found that his work experience qualified him for an executive MBA degree.
For a sum of $399, the cat was graduated with honors with a 3.5 GPA (that's a B-plus average) after Trinity Southern officials “evaluated” his resume—which apparently showed college-level business experience in the fast food industry, child care and, er, retail management.
Colby’s diploma was purchased in a sting operation undertaken by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. Trinity was cited as a degree mill in the operation and ordered to pay restitution. The college had claimed operations out of Plano for years.