Companies and websites selling novelty awards and certificates have been around a long time. For around £30 you can pimp your collection of awards as an ego boost or a prank.
But if they’re offering more than a ‘World’s Greatest Dad’ certificate, and claim to be providing ‘replacement’ or ‘novelty’ degree certificates, it’s a different matter.
Disclaimers on the websites advising that these are novelty items only and should not be used to misrepresent the bearer are not enough to legitimise their business and they run the risk of prosecution and even jail for a variety of offences e.g.
- producing counterfeit qualification certificates which bear registered trade marks without the consent of the trade mark proprietors contrary to the Trade Marks Act 1994,
- infringing copies of a copyright work contrary to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988,
- and other offences contrary to the Fraud Act 2006.
We are particulary appalled by one site offering replacement certificates for over 50 UK universities. It also has an eBay store and a Facebook page. The eBay store shows feedback from satisfied customers, with their eBay identity. (I hope they weren’t planning on using the certificates for nefarious purposes now their cover has been blown.)
I’m not mentioning names, as we are working with Trading Standards to shut them down and prosecute the proprietor. We’ll reveal all once action has been taken. We have notifed the universities.
Interestingly enough the proprietor was jailed four years ago for exactly the same offences.
Clearly a period of reflection at Her Majesty’s Pleasure hasn’t taught them anything.