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  1. #1
    freddyboy is offline Registered User
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    Calling DL and Legal Experts - What is "Legal" Degree Granting Authority?

    The issue at hand is the legal validity of the source of degree granting authority, not the degree utility.

    Case Study:
    Concordia College and University U.S. Nationally Accredited Prior Learning & Life Experience Degrees

    Concordia College & University is a private, non-traditional, non-sectarian, educational organization in Good Standing with our authorities. Concordia College & University's degree granting authority is additionally governed by our international IBC license based on U.S. common law.
    -----.

    Is the above actually true?
    If it is true, then I can understand how the scam is perpetrated.
    If it is not true, then how does this entity stay in business if it is illegal?

    I would love to get your thoughts and insights.

  2. #2
    Kizmet is offline Moderator
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    You could begin by reading through some threads from the archives.

    Concordia College and University
    Concordia College and University !
    Concordia C & U accredited by Indonesia?
    etc.

    I can be legally licensed to sell apples but there's nothing in that legal approval that guarantees they're not full of worms.
    American College of Sports Medicine

  3. #3
    freddyboy is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kizmet View Post
    You could begin by reading through some threads from the archives.

    Concordia College and University
    Concordia College and University !
    Concordia C & U accredited by Indonesia?
    etc.

    I can be legally licensed to sell apples but there's nothing in that legal approval that guarantees they're not full of worms.
    Thanks for your thoughts Kizmet.
    Based on your example, you are suggesting that the license to sell apples is legal , and that the apples you sell are real, although of poor quality.
    Am I understanding you correctly?

  4. #4
    airtorn is offline Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddyboy View Post
    Thanks for your thoughts Kizmet.
    Based on your example, you are suggesting that the license to sell apples is legal , and that the apples you sell are real, although of poor quality.
    Am I understanding you correctly?
    This apple would be of poor enough quality that I have trouble calling it an apple.
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  5. #5
    freddyboy is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by airtorn View Post
    This apple would be of poor enough quality that I have trouble calling it an apple.
    It's still an apple though, and its being sold from a legal seller, not an unlicensed street vendor, and that's what I'm trying to wrap my mind around.

    Maybe Kizmet's example isn't the best one, but I understand where he's coming from. I located two threads from 12 years ago which I think get's to the brass tacks that deal with this topic.

    Based on those threads, there seems to be some question as to whether an entity calling itself a college, institute or university in the United States gets its authority to grant degrees from individual state jurisdictions. There is also the notion that any organization that calls itself a degree granting institution can confer degrees on the basis of it's own authority codified in a charter of sorts and still be technically legal . This appears to be likely true with religious entities, although not necessarily limited to them.

  6. #6
    Kizmet is offline Moderator
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    You could go out tomorrow and with a bit of paperwork, create Freddyboy University and start issuing degrees. All you'd need is a nice printer and a good graphics software package. In a sense, all you'd be selling is a piece of paper and so it would be legal . The laws that govern such activities vary from state to state and country to country and so you might have to do some research and jump through a few hoops in order to remain legal . One interesting aspect of degree mills is watching them move around as laws change and the legal environment becomes increasingly uncomfortable. There's a reason why so many mills locate themselves in third world nations. Perhaps the best example is the scandal that eventually came to light in Liberia. A number of "schools" had located there and were claiming Liberian "accreditation." They were using this as proof that they were legitimate degree granting institutions. Of course, the country was in the middle of a civil war and every government official in the country was taking bribes from anyone who offered. So, were those degrees "legal ?" I guess you could say they were. Were they worth anything? Did they signify any real learning or academic accomplishment? I'd say no.
    American College of Sports Medicine

  7. #7
    Neuhaus is offline Registered User
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    In some states, I can open up Neuhaus University very easily. If I only offer a religious curriculum I only need to file an affidavit to exempt myself from any sort of evaluation process in the state of Florida. So, according to the state of Florida, Neuhaus University is legal and can award degrees.

    Does that mean that Florida endorses Neuhaus University? No. Does that mean Florida is saying my degrees are worth anything? No. By claiming religious exemption, I am exempting myself from Florida even looking at my coursework. But that affidavit presumably keeps me from running afoul of the Florida Attorney General (unless I start drawing attention to myself for clearly selling degrees).

    Part of the problem is that "legal authority" means different things in different places and contexts. Ina country where the Ministry of Education awards the degrees and schools merely provide the coursework, a school being authorized to function by the government may be the highest level of approval it can get.

    In the U.S., the states determine which schools can legally function. And the states differ in how they embrace that responsibility. Neuhaus University may be fully compliant with the state of Florida in awarding degrees. But using a Neuhaus University degree might be illegal in Oregon, Texas and New Jersey.

    So, do I really have full legal authority if another state in the same country might file criminal charges against my graduates for "using" degrees from my school?

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  9. #8
    Steve Levicoff is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddyboy View Post
    The issue at hand is the legal validity of the source of degree granting authority, not the degree utility.
    No, that is not the issue at hand. It has been an issue since the founding days of distance education for a dating back to Usenet newsgroups: the distinction between terms like legal and legitimate. If you were to simply do a search here at DI on the word legal, you would find scads of such dialogues.

    Case Study:
    Concordia College and University U.S. Nationally Accredited Prior Learning & Life Experience Degrees

    Concordia College & University is a private, non-traditional, non-sectarian, educational organization in Good Standing with our authorities. Concordia College & University's degree granting authority is additionally governed by our international IBC license based on U.S. common law.
    Freddy, I’m cutting you a lot of slack because of your posting history here at DI and your own experience in distance education (albeit with a DETC-accredited school that I have trashed a-plenty over the years. (But that’s another topic, and I will not go into it here. Or anywhere else.)

    The question is, why are you choosing this Concordia as your example? It is obviously a diploma mill. And, for what it’s worth, I have called many schools degree mills over the years, but I have never referred to a specific school as a diploma mill. (As many know, I differentiate between the two terms, but I have also discussed that extensively elsewhere.)

    This one, quite clearly, is a diploma mill. And assuming that you copied this from their web site, you should put it in quotes and attribute it so people will not think this hype is yours.

    Is the above actually true?
    If it is true, then I can understand how the scam is perpetrated.
    If it is not true, then how does this entity stay in business if it is illegal?
    No, your comment makes no sense, and they haven’t been caught. In that order.

    I would love to get your thoughts and insights.
    You got 'em. But perhaps you would make it clear to us if you have any connection – investor, employee, student, or graduate – to Concordia. We call that “disclosure,” and it would explain any vested interest you have in bringing this useless thread to bear. If you were new here, I’d call you a mill shill, but you have a two-and-a-half year posting history on DI and have addressed other subjects in the past so, again, you deserve some space to learn.

  10. #9
    freddyboy is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Levicoff View Post
    No, that is not the issue at hand. It has been an issue since the founding days of distance education for a dating back to Usenet newsgroups: the distinction between terms like legal and legitimate. If you were to simply do a search here at DI on the word legal, you would find scads of such dialogues.


    Freddy, I’m cutting you a lot of slack because of your posting history here at DI and your own experience in distance education (albeit with a DETC-accredited school that I have trashed a-plenty over the years. (But that’s another topic, and I will not go into it here. Or anywhere else.)

    The question is, why are you choosing this Concordia as your example? It is obviously a diploma mill. And, for what it’s worth, I have called many schools degree mills over the years, but I have never referred to a specific school as a diploma mill. (As many know, I differentiate between the two terms, but I have also discussed that extensively elsewhere.)

    This one, quite clearly, is a diploma mill. And assuming that you copied this from their web site, you should put it in quotes and attribute it so people will not think this hype is yours.


    No, your comment makes no sense, and they haven’t been caught. In that order.


    You got 'em. But perhaps you would make it clear to us if you have any connection – investor, employee, student, or graduate – to Concordia. We call that “disclosure,” and it would explain any vested interest you have in bringing this useless thread to bear. If you were new here, I’d call you a mill shill, but you have a two-and-a-half year posting history on DI and have addressed other subjects in the past so, again, you deserve some space to learn.
    Mr. Levicoff:

    Thank you for the honest and vigorous response to my post.

    I do in fact consider many posters here as experts, whose opinions I value. So, let me clarify a few things and answer your questions.

    When I state that the issue "not" at hand is the utility of a degree, I was referring to Concordia College and University, which is a diploma mill. Because it's a diploma mill, its degrees are worthless in academic terms. In other words, it's a given, and consequently, not in question.

    My question is purposely intended to focus responses that center on the legal argument advanced by diploma mills, and Concordia College and University is an excellent case study, because it claims to have authority from the state of Delaware, and it has been operating, evidently, since 1999. Sixteen years is a long time to be in business.

    Indeed, I'm a recent graduate of California Coast University . I'm currently a graduate student at Saint Joseph's College of Maine, a brick and mortar Catholic university with regional accreditation. My CCU credentials allowed me to join several professional organizations that require an accredited degree. It's been everything that I'd hoped for. But like you said, that's a topic for another day.

    In the interests of disclosure, I have nothing to disclose. I'm not a student or investor at Concordia. I have no connections whatsoever with said entity or with anybody associated with it.

    I chose Concordia as an example precisely for the reason you mention. It's obviously a diploma mill, yet it's been operating legally for 16 years! What better case study. Perhaps you have a better example. Again, is there something in the law that allows this scam (I called it that in my post) to continue to operate, or is it just that they haven't been caught. If they haven't been caught, that would mean that what it does is illegal...and that is precisely my question. Does Concordia have legal basis to operate their business..which involves awarding college degrees. If it is operating legally or not violating any laws, then what is the legal argument to shut it down?

    I appreciate what you say that this thread is useless. I respectfully disagree because I think I will find value in the educated responses of the posters on here. The last threads that directly related to my question are from 2003 and 2004 (topic was "degree granting authority". I think there's also some value is discussing a diploma mill that is going on its second decade of operation. The existence of these diploma mills represents several dangers, so i think we all have a shared interest in looking into how these sham organizations operate.

    Thanks again.

  11. #10
    freddyboy is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Levicoff View Post
    No, that is not the issue at hand. It has been an issue since the founding days of distance education for a dating back to Usenet newsgroups: the distinction between terms like legal and legitimate. If you were to simply do a search here at DI on the word legal, you would find scads of such dialogues.


    Freddy, I’m cutting you a lot of slack because of your posting history here at DI and your own experience in distance education (albeit with a DETC-accredited school that I have trashed a-plenty over the years. (But that’s another topic, and I will not go into it here. Or anywhere else.)

    The question is, why are you choosing this Concordia as your example? It is obviously a diploma mill. And, for what it’s worth, I have called many schools degree mills over the years, but I have never referred to a specific school as a diploma mill. (As many know, I differentiate between the two terms, but I have also discussed that extensively elsewhere.)

    This one, quite clearly, is a diploma mill. And assuming that you copied this from their web site, you should put it in quotes and attribute it so people will not think this hype is yours.


    No, your comment makes no sense, and they haven’t been caught. In that order.


    You got 'em. But perhaps you would make it clear to us if you have any connection – investor, employee, student, or graduate – to Concordia. We call that “disclosure,” and it would explain any vested interest you have in bringing this useless thread to bear. If you were new here, I’d call you a mill shill, but you have a two-and-a-half year posting history on DI and have addressed other subjects in the past so, again, you deserve some space to learn.

    Also, thanks for the suggestion to use quotes when citing directly from a website...oversight on my part.

  12. #11
    freddyboy is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddyboy View Post
    Also, thanks for the suggestion to use quotes when citing directly from a website...oversight on my part.
    ..and one more clarification. In my response to you in the 3rd paragraph, what I'm saying is that my question is worded intentionally to elicit responses that focus solely on the legal perspective.

  13. #12
    RAM PhD is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kizmet View Post
    I can be legally licensed to sell apples but there's nothing in that legal approval that guarantees they're not full of worms.
    Nice descriptive for degree mill and less-than-wonderful credentials--a sheepskin full of worms. :)

  14. #13
    Neuhaus is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by freddyboy View Post
    The issue at hand is the legal validity of the source of degree granting authority, not the degree utility.

    Case Study:
    Concordia College and University U.S. Nationally Accredited Prior Learning & Life Experience Degrees

    Concordia College & University is a private, non-traditional, non-sectarian, educational organization in Good Standing with our authorities. Concordia College & University's degree granting authority is additionally governed by our international IBC license based on U.S. common law.
    -----.

    Is the above actually true?
    If it is true, then I can understand how the scam is perpetrated.
    If it is not true, then how does this entity stay in business if it is illegal?

    I would love to get your thoughts and insights.

    1. Is the above actually true?

    No, it isn't. It is the vague sort of rantings of an organization trying to legitimize its existence. The United States justice system is based upon "common law" as opposed to "civil law" (Louisiana is generally considered a slight, but certainly not absolute, exception to this statement) which, among other things, means that our justice system isn't based solely upon a complex network of regulations and codes with incredibly little wiggle room for judicial interpretation. We have statutes which are interpreted by the courts. Those interpretations provide a foundation of case law. So, a law that says "pineapple is illegal to eat on Sunday" is passed by the legislature. The courts, through a series of cases, eventually interpret and conclude that pineapple is only illegal to eat on Sundays when it's raining. The effect is that I, as a citizen, can eat pineapple on non-rainy Sundays. The court's interpretation can alter the application of the law.

    That said, there is no case law that grants an unaccredited institution some form of de facto legitimacy. The authority to award degrees is granted by the states (or territorial government).

    2. If it is not true, then how does this entity stay in business if it is illegal?

    For starters, Concordia has a mailing address in Dominica. I wouldn't be surprised if we were to visit that address we would find it was merely a mail forwarding location. Concordia "stays in business" because if they host their website in a country that really doesn't give a damn and their physical presence cannot be tied to a place where the U.S. government (or any state therein) has jurisdiction, then how would they possibly be shut down?

    If I operated Concordia from my home (and made no effort to hide that fact) I would almost certainly have a cease and desist order from the Attorney General in short order. New York is very strict about operating colleges without authorization. So I would quickly run afoul of my state's regulators.

    If, however, Concordia exists only on a web hosting server in say, Somalia and the diplomas are being shipped directly from a printer in Dubai, who does the Attorney General go after? If regulators in Dubai and Somalia wish to take no action then there is nothing the U.S. government can do.

    Also, it isn't typically up to the U.S. government to do anything in a situation like this. An unauthorized school in New York is handled by New York regulators. It's a matter that is generally within the purview of the states. Which state has the authority to go after an overseas entity like this? Historically, states have claimed some limited jurisdiction where residents of their state have purchased the degrees. I believe that is what happened with Almeda University and Florida. Florida has neither legal authority nor physical means to shut down Almeda (as it exists outside of the state). So, they issued a cease and desist and asked Almeda to stop selling degrees in their state.

    Almeda could certainly refuse. Florida could obtain court orders and maybe even arrest warrants. But I doubt Florida actually knows which individuals are running the school in the first place. And the possibility that those individuals reside outside the jurisdiction of Florida (and likely the U.S.) is pretty significant as well.

    I have given you two answers based upon my own observations. I've tried to do so without snark because I don't think you are defending Concordia. It seems to me that your questions are largely based upon your difficulty in understanding how a criminal enterprise can continue to thrive on the internet despite its operations being clearly illegal. These continued operations , as entities like Concordia would hope, lend a false sense of credibility to them in the eyes of some consumers.

    "Of course what we're doing is legal , how else could we do it?"

    And pre-internet, most of these diploma mills seemed to reside in states with lax standards. Then some did a little dance with Liberia for a while. Now, Caribbean mailing addresses can be obtained in minutes (provided you have a paypal account) and Panamanian web hosting is plentiful, cheap and generally reliable. I'm sure that the schools operated by Americans are able to operate because no one can conclusively link the schools to the individuals and the rest are overseas scam artists.
    Last edited by Neuhaus; 04-14-2015 at 04:56 AM.

  15. #14
    Kizmet is offline Moderator
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neuhaus View Post
    The effect is that I, as a citizen, can eat pineapple on non-rainy Sundays. The court's interpretation can alter the application of the law.
    "But Your Honor, there was only a fine mist in the air, not even a drizzle. Certainly not what any reasonable person would call 'raining.'"

    I know I'm right because I have a degree from Concordia College and University.
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  17. #15
    SteveFoerster is offline Resident Gadfly
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neuhaus View Post
    For starters, Concordia has a mailing address in Dominica.
    It used to, until 2011. Now the only ones I see them list are in Delaware.

    That's not to disagree with your description of how one can insulate oneself from regulation by internationalizing one's business structures. But it certainly changes the parameters of this particular situation.
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  18. #16
    Neuhaus is offline Registered User
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveFoerster View Post
    It used to, until 2011. Now the only ones I see them list are in Delaware.

    That's not to disagree with your description of how one can insulate oneself from regulation by internationalizing one's business structures. But it certainly changes the parameters of this particular situation.
    You are correct and thank you for pointing that out. I don't think I even thought of Concordia since before "the move."

    Their website specifically attempts to disavow itself from Dominica (by essentially claiming that the Concordia University in Dominica is a separate, unrelated institution). When I search their whois entry, it points me to "Perfect Privacy, LLC" in Jacksonville, FL. Their website has two references to Delaware. The first appears to point toward "Incorporation Services" and the second (by the website's own admission) is a registered agent.

    Anyone unfamiliar with the term "registered agent" should know that this is a person, located within a particular state, who is able to receive process on behalf of an entity. If you incorporate in your own state you can serve as your own registered agent. So, it still suggests to me that they are located outside of the state of Delaware. I suspect that if you went to either location with a subpoena you would be directed either overseas or through a never ending network of mail drops and forwarding services.

    Granted, that last part is pure speculation, but it is my suspicion nonetheless that their Delaware presence is just another shell corporation (which likely ties back to Dominica, or Caymans, or Belize or any number of other places where it's relatively easy to set up an incredibly private company beyond the reach of the U.S. law).

    My point is that, not only can I insulate myself by internationalizing my business structure, but I can attempt to legitimize that structure through U.S. shell corporations while still remaining beyond the reach of U.S. regulators.

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