Some realize what they are doing, but an escalating number are being duped by degree mills that operate sophisticated Internet fraud schemes promising consumers they can get a degree fast online. These phony colleges, aptly named diploma mills, thrive on the sale of fake diplomas.
Diploma mills, also known as degree mills, are colleges that sell fake educational credentials or diplomas. Degree mills have experienced a surge in the last decade. These education scams prey on consumer ignorance about terms like "accreditation" and "licensing."
A college degree is the second most expensive purchase most people will make in their lifetime—second only to the purchase of a home. Without a degree, careers remain stalled, wages low. For this reason, the sale of bogus online degrees has become big business.
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What Is a Diploma Mill?
A diploma mill, also known as a degree mill, is any bogus university that sells college diplomas—the piece of paper itself rather than the educational experience. Diploma mills crank out fake paper diplomas to anyone who is able to pay the requested "tuition" amount—generally a lump sum of from $500-$2,500.
“Diploma mills (or degree mills) are substandard or fraudulent ‘colleges’ that offer potential students degrees with little or no serious work,” says Alan Contreras, administrator of the Office of Degree Authorization for the Oregon Student Assistance Commission.
Diploma mills typically employ high-pressure sales people that specialize in aggressive telephone and email tactics. Some degree mills have been operating for decades. They avoid prosecution by changing their state of operation, by changing their name or by locating themselves in states or foreign countries with the weakest educational laws.