Facepalm

Comments on this blog are most welcome and means someone is reading and engaging with our messages. Thank you commenters all.

Today’s commenter deserves a special prize.

moderation

moderation-blown-up

Let’s see who our new number one fan is…..

custom-diploma

Are they filled with remorse? Turning themselves in?

No.

The folks over at Custom Diploma think this is a site endorsing fake diplomas and want us to advertise their wares!*

Thanks to WordPress we have their IP address and email clearly displayed, so our fraud team will be reporting them immediately.

We just couldn’t resist sharing. Happy Tuesday everyone.

*Other fake certificate websites are available**

**But not for long.

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The Sting

On the face of it The University of Northern New Jersey was a model bogus university. Happy to offer student places, assisting to process student visas and issue certificates and documents with no questions asked, no requirement to attend, no campus and no faculty staff.

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Educational brokers flocked to the site to register students and obtain visas – charging students thousands of dollars which enabled them to stay in the United States, knowing full well it was all a front.

What they didn’t know was that this bogus university was itself a fake. The US Department of Homeland Security set up the fake university website in 2013 to catch criminals engaged in student visa scams. Undercover agents posed as administrators dealing with the brokers and paying them commissions of between $1200 and $2000 to recruit ‘students’ in a 3 year sting operation. 21 individuals have now been arrested and over 1000 foreign nationals mostly from India and China face deportation.

All I can hear in my head is the theme tune to ‘The Sting’ and remembering the brilliance of Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the movie. If Redford is available, I’m free.

Isn’t It Ironic?

One of my ongoing frustrations is the lack of prosecutions for degree fraud, despite the fact that it is against the law in the UK and carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.

A new guide for students ‘Don’t Finish Your Career Before it Starts’ has just been distributed to universities and warns of the criminal consequences of white lies or embellishments. As a follow-up we were asked if we had any case studies of successful prosecutions of graduates. Sadly, we don’t.

The cases we know of are individuals who faked their qualifications, so aren’t valid graduates. The one high profile case we’ve covered here is Dennis O’Riordan, the University of East Anglia graduate who was dismissed from the Bar for degree fraud, but he has not been prosecuted to date.

As we know, most degree fraud goes undetected due to the lack of proper checks being made by employers, although every survey confirms that about 1/3 of applicants admit to lying on their CVs.

The prevailing view seems to be that it’s OK to get a little creative with your CV if you can actually do the job. Why should you be discounted because your skills and qualifications are from the University of Life? But not every instance is an honest candidate, just trying to get ahead.

Recently in Manchester,  Wade Jordan was jailed for three years for fraud and perverting the course of justice. Jordan landed an HR role at biotechnology firm, Qiagen’s, Manchester office by claiming he had an MA in Human Resource Management from Manchester Metropolitan University. He went on to swindle almost £50,000 in fraudulent expense claims between 2010 and 2013. A police investigation, launched after the company unearthed his expenses fiddle, found he had no such qualification – something Qiagen could have checked themselves with Manchester Metropolitan University, when they recruited him. 

The fact that Jordan was recruited into an HR role only adds insult to injury, although it could teach Alanis Morrisette a thing or two about irony.

You Couldn’t Make It Up #1

Craig warns about the importance of making checks because fake certificates can be of excellent quality and look very convincing. Indeed there have been cases where we’ve had to look and look again to spot the errors when a university has returned a ‘not verified’ response.

This is not always the case. Sometimes the fake ones are so breathtakingly obvious as to be funny. As we bask in the July sunshine, here’s a story to brighten your day.

The applicant has a real degree from a UK university in Business Administration. They apply for a role as a Claims Manager with an overseas branch of a well-known High Street bank. For some inexplicable reason they decide that Law is a better degree, and cut and paste the word ‘Law’ over the words ‘Business Administration’ on their certificate, then photocopy it to cover up the overlay. Unfortunately, they don’t stick it on straight. The words slope off to the right. On top of that, the edges of the overlay are clearly visible on the copy! This case seems particularly bizarre as the applicant had a perfectly legitimate degree.

This has happened before. Paypal boss Scott Thompson was famously exposed for claiming to hold a degree in Computer Science, when he became the new CEO of Yahoo, despite the fact that he had a perfectly legimitate degree in Accounting, and a proven track record. Needless to say, it cost him his job, and his reputation.