Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

Avoiding Online Education Scams and Diploma Mills

Attending college and earning a degree should be relatively hard work. That’s what makes it rewarding in the end. But some criminals have turned this milestone into a fraudulent moneymaker, ripping off unsuspecting students that are simply trying to advance their education. With the popularity of online colleges and classes increasing exponentially each year, so has the prevalence of online education scams. From fake universities to fake degrees, students should beware of these pitfalls and know what to look for when researching online colleges to attend.

A popular scam right now is called the "diploma mill." These are websites that promise students fast and easy degrees, but for a pretty penny. Students register online without an application process or interview, take a basic test of multiple choice questions and receive the news that they have earned a degree. After simply paying the company anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars, the scammed students will receive their diploma and certificates in the mail. The Better Business Bureau has received many reports of the fake universities and even claims that there are now fake high schools offering students phony GEDs.

Other education scams include fake universities and colleges that accept students online, request tuition and then never provide those students with any classes or certificates. They simply steal the money and are never heard from again. They lie about their accreditation status and course offerings, so even the inquisitive potential students can be duped.

Also, it can be easy for these fake university and college websites to proliferate because they do not have to maintain a physical address, which is ironically one of the main reasons students attend an online university in the first place. This element of anonymity allows scammers to rip off unsuspecting students and shrewd students alike. To avoid being scammed by one of these fake education website, do your homework on them. Don’t accept their claims of accreditation at face value. The United States Secretary of Education publishes a list of nationally recognized accreditation agencies, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation also provides a comprehensive list of all accredited colleges and universities, as well as accreditation agencies. If your school is not on this list, it could be a scam. Also, contact the Better Business Bureau to see if the school you are interested in is being investigated for fraud. A little research could save you a great deal of money and headache.

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