A federal Judge for the Eastern District Court of Michigan recently awarded plaintiffs in a civil class action lawsuit $22,783,500.00. The plaintiffs in the case were 33,500 U.S. residents who were deceived into purchasing fraudulent high schools diplomas from “Belford High School”. “Belford High School” and “Belford University” are both based in Pakistan. Belford sold thousands of fake college and high school diplomas to online education consumers. The suit also requires the school to forfeit the domain names they used to carry out the fraud.
These domain names include www.belfordhighschool.org, www.belforduniversity.org, and www.belforduniversity.com (these websites are no longer active). The award, while substantial is still just a “drop in the bucket” compared to the billion dollar revenue that Diploma Mills generate annually.
Diploma mills offer fraudulent high school and college degrees online for a fee. Generally the requirements for “earning” a degree are that the student take a very basic test or write essays that rely on “past life experiences” as qualification for bypassing hundreds of hours of course work.
Unfortunately the news doesn’t get better; the United States remains the world leader in Diploma Mills. In 2011, a UK based company called Verifile Limited conducted a research which revealed a 20% increase in diploma mills (from 810 to 1,000) and of these new firms, 40% of operate in California, Hawaii, Washington, and Florida.
Currently there is no federal law regulating this type of practice. However eighteen states have passed laws against violators manufacturing fake degrees. Due to a rise in fraudulent degrees, employers should ensure that they are verifying education credentials for sensitive positions.
Read the lawsuit details.