Recent Developments with Degree Mills: Accreditation Mills and Counterfeit Diploma and Transcript Operations

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This article updates developments regarding Diploma Mills, Accreditation Mills, and Counterfeit Diploma & Transcript operations. It will cover identification & prosecution, to new entities now appearing in these growth industries with annual revenues over one billion dollars. This article will address federal and state laws, a new Federal Diploma Mill definition, trends, resources, and steps that can be taken to prevent these academic frauds.

Significant developments have occurred during the last several years regarding academic fraud and the activities of Diploma Mill (dm), Accreditation Mill (am), and Counterfeit Diploma and Transcript (cd&t) operations. These fraudulent operations have become more sophisticated and daily ply their wares around the world via the Internet. Although the investigation and public exposure of the manufacture, sale, and use of fraudulent credentials have led to arrests and prosecutions as well as loss of positions and credibility - with international ramifications - these operations still flourish. In spite of success in closing down several of these large operations, the scarcity of public outrage and the lack of consistent action by law enforcement, coupled with anonymity afforded by the Internet, have given the operations new life and the resources they need to flourish worldwide. DMs and cd&t operations have been characterized by some as "whacking a gopher."

My objective in this article is to encourage your active participation in defending traditional educational standards against these fraudulent operations, many of which blend in with legitimate distance education. You can participate by being better informed as to what is available in today's market, by being vigilant in your activities, and by promoting and supporting legislative and law enforcement action in these areas. At the same time, strengthen the security and integrity of your own institutional documents to prevent your institution from being victimized. A review of recent events should prove sufficient to persuade you to join in this fight. Remember: Lead by example!

Related recent events include:

* USSS undercover operation "Gold Seal" against operators of St. Regis University, Monrovia, Liberia, and Spokane, WA (and corruption of foreign government officials)

* Explosion in internet dms offering degrees based wholly on "credit for life experience"

* Increase in number of internet "degree brokers" representing various schools

* Increased number of cd&t Web sites in the Richmond, va, vicinity

* Creation of numerous new ams used to support the plethora of new Internet dms

* Emergence of several "look-alike" organizations designed to confuse the public (e.g., ascaor; cohl; DETQj IDETC; THLC)

* Arrest and conviction (or civil charges against) operators of:

* LaSalle University, Man deville, LA;

* Columbia State University, Métairie, LA, and San Clemente, CA;

* Trinity Southern University, Dallas, TX;

* www.DiplomasForLess.com, Spring, TX;

* University of Berkley, Erie, PA (civil charges);

* University Degree Program, Bucharest, Romania, and Jerusalem, Israel; CA and NYC (civil)

* New state and federal statutes; congressional hearings

* Exposure of government officials, educators, law enforcement, and other professionals around the world who were using dm and cd&t credentials

* Crackdowns by foreign governments on the manufacture, sale, and use of fraudulent academic credentials

* Academic fraud at Touro College, New York City and resulting prosecutions; application/resume fraud leading to downfall of registrar at mit

* Crackdown by National Collegiate Athletic Association (ncaa) on high school dms, resulting investigations and new regulations

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