The Fake University Degree Scourge

The scourge of fake certificates: Fake or tampered degrees or certificates have always been a problem

Fake or tampered degrees or certificates have always been a problem but recent scams show that they are becoming more pervasive. This is Part 1 of a series of blog posts attempting to investigate the issue and suggest potential solutions.

Degree scams are not limited to your average Joe but are now being uncovered in high places as well:

FakeDegreeNews

We have been aware of this problem for years and are now alarmed at the increasing frequency of such incidents. Surprisingly, this problem is not just limited to developing countries and such incidents occur literally in every country.

There are three main drivers for this phenomenon:

1. Motivation:

Academic credentials are highly valued and considered a passport for leading a good and respectable life — by hook or crook, everyone wants one!

2. Access to technology:

Sophisticated scanners, printers and image manipulation software are now easily available to everyone.

3. Globalisation:

With increased workforce mobility, it is now very common for people growing up and studying in one part of the world and working in another.

Everyday, society pays a very heavy price for this malarkey. Trustworthy credentials lay the foundation of a merit based society and such incidents shake our faith in the system.

The worrying aspect is that the scope of the damage is extending beyond sullied reputations or economic costs, fake degrees have literally caused deaths due to fake doctors:

FakeDoctorsNYTimes

A couple of ways unscrupulous people fake degrees are:

  • Outright fake: Never graduated from the college and either forged a certificate by modifying one from a friend or by using an online degree selling service. The fake certificates can be such a good imitation that even a trained eye could be deceived.

  • Embellishment: Actually graduated from the claimed college but courses are faked or marks enhanced in transcripts. These are even more difficult to detect because a high level check will validate that the person did attend that college.

Another factor making this an intractable problem is that it is not just individuals faking degrees but organised commercial operators.

ChinaSellsFakeDegrees

The above story about an operator in China providing degrees from Australian Universities is remarkably brazen even by the standards of these shady operators:

  • The degrees, which the business claims are sourced from the same parchment providers used by the universities, range from $3500 for “copy” quality to $5700 for an “original”

  • For $6500, it claims to be able to input the fraudulent student details into university databases!

Such incidents should raise the hackles of any university administrator.

In the next post we will discuss some of the options being used to mitigate this epidemic of fake degrees.

June 16, 2015 3 min read

Tags: Authentication Certificates Education Qryptal Security
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