Doctors of Deception: Diploma Mills
Did Your Doctor Really Go to Medical School?
“Diploma mills” have proliferated online, and they’ve gotten much more sophisticated in the support they provide to cheating customers. This is a problem for employers, public or private. It can be expensive and traumatic for litigants and medical patients, too.
Dennis Yang, a Toronto attorney, is out an estimated $100,000 because he hired fraudster Inayat Kassam to open a new office. Kassam was referred to Yang by a trusted colleague. Kassam’s diplomas, transcripts, and references all looked authentic and excellent. The problem: neither Kassam’s law school nor his BA alma mater exist!
The school that issued Kassam’s fake BA diploma is supposedly based in Florida. But it turns out the address listed is fake and the photos of campus and faculty were stolen from other sites. This sort of chicanery can be exposed by calling accreditation agencies. But many fake schools also have fake accreditation agencies answering phone calls! References, too, can be called, but employers have no idea whether the reference contact is real or fake.
It’s estimated that diploma mills crank out $1 BILLION worth of fake degrees every year, for a few hundred dollars a pop. Additional support such as fake resumes and references cost a bit more. "There's clear evidence that more than half of the people in any given year who claim a new Ph.D. actually bought a fake one," says John Bear, an expert in online education and co-author of a book on degree mills.
A Pakistan-based IT firm called Axact seems to be the largest online diploma mill, according to a Canadian Broadcasting Company investigation. Using various fake schools, Axact issues degrees in engineering, computer science, social service counseling, and nursing, among many other majors.
Is Your Cosmetic Surgeon a Hairdresser?
Social media is not the place to find a cosmetic surgeon. A recent study found that only about 17% of cosmetic surgeons posting “educational” material on Instagram (which are really patient recruitment ads) actually have the board certifications and other credentials that they claim. Some of the self-identifying cosmetic surgeons are actually dentists, hairdressers, or spa employees.
A group of high school journalists in Pittsburg, Kansas exposed their principal’s fake degrees, prompting her to resign from her $93,000 position. Her fake alma mater, Corllins University, does not exist, according to Dept. of Education records. Searches of LinkedIn.com reveal 745 people claiming degrees from Corllins -- all of them are bogus.
Federal agents have identified 12,500 fake degrees issued by 40 diploma mills under investigation. That’s a drop in the bucket; it’s estimated that more than 5,000 diploma mills are active online today.
Employers have to do extra due diligence to check the references, or even the existence, of job candidates’ alma maters, references, and past employers. Consumers should call state licensing agencies to verify the credentials of any hairdresser, engineer, lawyer, or medical professional they are considering.
The Internet has made a lot of things easier. But unfortunately, fraud is one of them. On the bright side, with just a bit of Googling, intrepid sleuths can have a lot of fun outing fake Ph.D. principals and other posers.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 15 Sep 2017
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Doctors of Deception: Diploma Mills (Posted: 15 Sep 2017)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved