The concept of buying a diploma online is not something that is new, but with the recent sites that are popping up all over the internet offering this service, it has become a fast growing and very lucrative business. Companies offer whatever type of degree you want, and most times customers are unable to tell the difference between a fake degree and a real one. Websites claim that you are able to use this diploma as a novelty item, a replacement if you have lost or damaged your own, or simply as a decoration. The problem is, customers are using these diplomas to obtain employment, which is in fact illegal, and is looked at as fraud.
With a cost of up to $1000, these diplomas will look as real as you need them to, and will have very official looking credentials attached to them, but not without consequences. There are two types of institutions that sell these fake certificates. Diploma mills will sell fraudulent diplomas that they claim has been issued by an actual university, and degree mills actually pose as a real university. Most of these websites claim that they are accredited but in reality the accreditation has to be recognized by the Department of Education. Websites will claim that they are accredited, but are actually nothing more than a website printing out fake degrees.
So how can you know the difference between a diploma mill and an actual legit distance learning program? The very first thing to do is research where the site says that they are accredited from, make sure it is not from an accreditation mill, which is simply a website that will hand out accreditation without having any authority to do so. Be sure to check and double check the name of the university that you are looking into. Often times, diploma mills will use very similar names to reputable universities in the hopes that it goes overlooked. Steer clear of “life experience” credits, this is often a red flag. Make sure that you are able to speak with a professor. It is important that you have the ability to interact with your teachers and a warning sign of a diploma mill is the inability to do so. Try to keep in mind that if it looks too good to be true, more than likely it in fact is.
The truth is, you will not get into trouble simply by purchasing a diploma online. It is when you decide to use it to get a job that fraud is being committed and if caught, could find yourself in a lot of trouble. There have been many incidents where degree mills have actually sold PhD’s to medical doctors that has resulted in jail time for attempting to practice medicine with an online degree. If you are buying a degree simply for the purpose of hanging it up in your home to impress someone, then have at it, you will be not be sent to jail for that, but, a lie is a lie no matter how well you are able to dress it up, and you will eventually have to explain yourself.
With all of the uproar about fake diplomas and the harm they could cause, why is it even legal for degree mills to operate in the first place? There are many answers to that. First, it is very hard to make a law that will clearly point out a legitimate university and a degree mill because of the controversy that it will bring. Second, most times degree mills will focus their selling to other states or countries so that they can have the chance to get away with it longer. There is also a lot of grey areas, including religious schools that claim they own a church and are able to grant degrees. The separation of church and state has most states reluctant to restrict this from happening.
In the 1980′s, the FBI launched what is called DipScam, a series of investigations that led to the closing of 39 diploma mills. During this investigation, there were numerous teachers and doctors that were found to have obtained a fake diploma online. While investigations have slowed down quite a bit, there are still agencies that work to have them shut down. Unfortunately, the ability to buy a diploma online has made it much harder to find and shut these companies down.
The important thing to remember if you are thinking about purchasing a degree online is that the educational system is set up the way that it is to ensure that when you reach your career choice you will be completely prepared for it. While you may think you have the training and the know how that you need to move up in your company, just not the degree, you may not only put your job at risk by purchasing a degree online, but could also ruin your reputation and put your entire career on the line. While it seems easy enough to attain one and present it to your employer, it is a ticking bomb waiting to go off.
When we are children we are told over and over again that we can be whatever we want, that the sky is the limit and the only thing that can hold us back is ourselves. While this is still very true, it does not mean that everyone should have multiple fake degrees from unaccredited universities just to get ahead in the world. Take into consideration that you would not want a lawyer give you advice that has gotten a degree online, and would not want your kids to be taught by some random person who thought it may be fun to teach. Degree mills are not going away anytime soon, in fact, it may get worse before it gets any better. The best thing to do is to educate yourself and the people around you about the problems and the consequences of buying a degree online and avoid it at all costs.