Where Did Your Applicant Get Their Degree From? It Does Matter

diplomafraud March 8, 2012 1

According to a 2011 report, the U.S. has the most diploma mills in the world. This year there has been a 20% increase in known diploma mills in the US, with the number rising from 810 to 1,008. High school diploma mills are of particular concern in the United States and appear to be a growing segment in this unscrupulous market as well.

What is a fake diploma?

Fake diplomas come from “diploma mills”. Webster’s Third New International Dictionary defines a diploma mill as, “An institution of higher education operating without supervision of a state or professional agency and granting diplomas which are either fraudulent or, because of the lack of proper standards, worthless.”

Identifying a fake diploma

The reality is that 43% of job applicants lie on their resume′ in one form or another. One of the biggest lies on a resume or job application is a fake education. This can be presented by false claims of graduating from a school by supplying fake diplomas from diploma mills. Regardless of the how the fake education is presented, it is fraudulent and should be of great concern to employers.

The best way to stop this type of unethical behavior by applicants is to conduct an employment background screening prior to hire. Hiring a pre-employment firm will help uncover and identify fake degrees and bogus claims of an education. They have the resources, experience and skills to verify legitimate schools versus diploma mill degrees.

The market for fake diplomas

Employers need to be aware that the market for fake diplomas is very lucrative and very easy to set up and get away with. Through the ease of the Internet, diploma mills and “phony” diploma companies can provide low cost, good quality diplomas. Even if the government steps in to stop them, they are up and running on the Internet the very next day. Unethical job applicants are more than happy to take full advantage of the ease of obtaining a diploma through a diploma mill or a “novelty diploma” company. These companies make it very easy to get a fake education and diploma for a relatively low price. Some fake “schools” and novelty companies can provide bogus transcripts for an extra fee.

Why employees use fake diplomas

Employees use fake degrees because it is easy and the job market can be very competitive. Even a position does not require a degree, a fake degree will be used to “get a leg up” on the competition.

Examples of diploma mills

There is no shortage of diploma mills on the Internet. Here are a few stories about fake diplomas being uncovered.

Former senior director at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Laura Callahan was under investigation for obtaining fake Bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in computer science from Hamilton University, a now-defunct diploma mill. Her fake credentials led to an 11-month investigation that uncovered multiple fake degrees held by numerous federal officials. Although Callahan did have a legit associate’s degree, she resigned from her position.

Marilee Jones was the dean of admissions at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and co-wrote ‘Less Stress, More Success: A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond’ before it emerged that she herself had cheated the admission process in getting a job at MIT in the first place. In 2007, it became public knowledge that she had lied on her CV with fake qualifications when she first joined MIT in 1979 as an entry-level admissions officer.

When she resigned her position with a statement on the college’s website, she wrote: “I misrepresented my academic degrees when I first applied to MIT 28 years ago, and did not have the courage to correct my resume when I applied for my current job or at any time since.” It just goes to show that lying on your CV can catch you up at any time – in this case, nearly 3 decades later.

The consequences of hiring fake graduates

The consequences that can arise out of hiring candidates with fake degrees are financial and physical damages. Employees who receive their degrees from diploma mills are not properly trained. They are more likely to make mistakes on the job that can result in a lawsuit or financial loss for a business. This is in addition to physical harm they can cause fellow employees and the public.

Making sure you avoid the “diploma mill” graduates

What it comes down to is that lazy and lying job applicants will use diploma mills to “earn” their degree. Employers can’t keep job applicants from buying their education, but they can take action to avoid hiring them. By conducting a professional background screening, including an educational records search, many inconsistencies can be discovered and problem employees averted.

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