Fake degree sites should be stopped

Wish your transcript looked better? Want a college diploma already? Would you like to have your very own Harvard Law degree before Memorial Day? Well, if you’ve got a few hundred dollars to burn, you could have it all.

Thanks to the rapid proliferation of entrepreneurial Web sites, phony document trafficking is reaching an eyebrow-raising high. Accordingly, the number of people trying to use falsified documents to secure jobs and entry into graduate school is up as well.

Research conducted by Scrip-Safe, a company that manufactures college transcript paper, estimates that at least half a million people lie to their employers each year about having graduated from college.

Although forgery of academic documents in particular is by no means new, the Internet appears to have made the process faster and considerably easier as well.

Backalleypress.com, for instance, offers customers “1,000 replica novelty degrees, diplomas and transcripts from universities all around the world.” With its main office located in China, the company allows you to pick your own GPA and fill in your desired major.

If you transfer $630 to a bank account they’ve set up in Estonia, for instance, you can expect a doctoral degree complete with a “customized set of transcripts” in just 10 days.

Colleges are, understandably, up in arms about this. Last August, several senior administrators at institutions across the nation sent e-mails to Fakedegrees.com requesting that company, according to a report in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “cease and desist” from using their institutions’ “names and logos.”

Fakedegrees.com has not removed references to these colleges from its Web site and continues to offer falsified diplomas and transcripts to the paying customer.

Although legislation in Illinois and North Dakota is being proposed that would make the use of such documents a misdemeanor punishable by law, other states have been slow to follow suit.

Lying to advance your career and “further” your education is, sadly, not limited to the under-30-and-doesn’t-know-better crowd. The president of Quincy University, for instance, resigned last October after certain “inaccuracies” were uncovered on his resume.

Why in this day of computerized registrar databases, accessing this sort of information should be easy.

It is ridiculous for any hiring agent to not pick up the phone and call an institution to verify a degree.

It seems to me that simply sending e-mails to companies like Fakedegrees.com isn’t the answer here.

Looking to curb document fraud, colleges would be well-advised to tighten up their own internal processes instead.

There can be no excuse for people like Kole and Troupe to exist and publicly thrive in the [higher education] system by relying on false documentation.