Mar 242004
 
Authors: Jesse McLain

What once took years to accomplish and thousands of dollars to

achieve can now be obtained in minutes and for as little as

$75.

Recently the Internet has become home to many businesses that

offer fake degrees “designed to look unequivocally real,” according

to the Web site DiplomaMakers.com. For a small membership fee,

customers can design their own degrees with a false major and

school of their choosing, and they will receive it through the mail

within days.

Sarah Urbanek, CSU art education and graphic design senior, has

worked hard for her degree and isn’t happy about students or

businesses that try to con their way through the college

process.

“I don’t care for it at all. It’s just a cheap way for people to

get an education,” Urbanek said. “It’s just a way for cheaters in

education and people trying to make a quick buck.”

Urbanek is also nervous that she will face more competition in

the job market after graduation because of interviewees with

inflated resumes, but she remains confident that she will be ahead

in the end.

“It makes it harder for me because I actually put the effort in

to get a degree; it’s just not fair for me,” Urbanek said. “But if

an employer asks me a question I am more likely to know the answer

than someone who paid for their degree. I just think they’ll get

caught.”

FBI spokesman Bill Carter said diploma mills are exceptionally

difficult to prosecute because each Web site offers some version of

a disclaimer explaining that although their degrees look

exceptionally real, they are not intended for actual professional

use. The disclaimer offered on FakeDegrees.com reads: “Warning:

These novelty certificates are intended for novelty purposes only.

They are not intended for and we take no responsibility for their

use in any matters perpetrating fraud or dishonesty.”

Carter said that an individual who purchases the diploma,

however, may get into trouble.

“From a law enforcement and prosecution standpoint the problem

we run into is that disclaimer; if you notice they’re all very

careful about saying that they are novelty items,” Carter said. “If

an individual purchases these degrees and uses it on a resume then

legal actions can be taken.”

Carter feels that the best way to correct the increasing problem

with diploma mills is a little more effort on the prospective

employers’ parts. For CSU graduates, employers can go to

studentclearinghouse.org to check out student credentials and to

make sure no information has been falsified.

Albert Powell, director of independent learning in Continuing

Education, said diploma mills have a long history, and the Internet

has only made things more difficult.

“There were diploma mills 50 years ago and there have always

been people who cheat,” Powell said. “I would just say that sooner

or later, you’re going to get caught and once you do you won’t get

hired.”

Morally, diploma mills may offer more consequences than just the

possibility of getting caught.

“On an ethical basis you’re being totally and completely

dishonest,” Powell said. “When a perspective employer finds that

out you can kiss that job goodbye.”

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