Remember Southern Pacific U ?

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by nyvrem, Apr 19, 2015.

  1. nyvrem

    nyvrem Active Member

    Very brief summary of what happened in (Singapore) recently.

    1) keyboard warriors found out Southern Pacific U was a degree mill

    2) they found the Singapore government (IDA) employing a person with said degree on her CV - found it through linkedin

    Picture here


    3) Word got out from local forum boards - people started to post questions on IDA's facebook page to demand some answers

    4) This was their reply -


    Source is from here ;

    IDA continues to hire that india indian with degree from degree mill. this is their reply -

    I'm quite disappointed that the government would try to defend their actions of her having a fake degree. I believe somewhere along the hiring process, their HR screwed up and now they'r trying to cover their faces. oh well.

  2. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    This is a tricky situation for a few reasons:

    1. Is it proper to publicly shame a person who is using an unaccredited degree?
    2. If a job requires only a B.S. and I am sporting a diploma mill MBA and/or PhD, is that the same (or better? Or worse?) than having a diploma mill degree as your qualifying degree?
    3. Is the appropriate course of action termination in every single case?

    for number 1, it's something I've struggled with. If I am lurking around the inter webs and find a professor with a degree from Atlantic International University, do I have the duty/right to plaster his name all over the Internet? What about a discreet email to the university HR department? It's a tough thing. On the one hand we can talk about deceit and lying to get the job. On the other, I have met more than a handful of professors who don't understand how accreditation works or the role it plays in US education. Maybe the individual acted out of ignorance rather than greed. And do I really want to be the guy lurking around looking for other peoples' skeletons so that I can actively try to deprive them of their livelihood? I cannot convince myself that it is a good idea on any level.
  3. novadar

    novadar Member

    I agree with Neuhaus. I am firm believer that our actions in the past have a strong influence on our outcomes in the future. None among us are perfect, when you decide to create a tidal wave of grief for another person, someone you most likely do not even know personally, be prepared for a wave in some way, shape, or form to come crashing down on you one day. It may not come for a few months, years, or even decades but I sincerely believe it will happen. Some call it fate, others call it karma, whatever it is, it seems to be a recurrent theme across all walks of life and it's a brutal and nasty thing. Reap what you sow my friend, reap what you sow.
  4. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

  5. Lhosant

    Lhosant New Member

    I would say that there at least two types of non-accredited colleges graduates: those who want a credential for as little effort as possible and those who enroll thinking that they are attending a legitimate higher education institution. In my opinion, is unfair to lump everyone with the first, especially when we are dealing with international students who very likely aren't aware of the education accreditation structure of the host nation.
  6. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I find it difficult to believe that a fundamentally honest person, however unsophisticated, believes that he or she can get a university degree just by paying fees.
  7. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member


    Have you ever actually bought a diploma mill degree? I bought two (paid for by my employer, kind of a funny story, actually). I can tell you I had two very different experiences.

    The associates degree (Buxton University) was the payment of a fee and filling out a small text box where I was asked to provide a summary of my vast "life experience." A few weeks later, my diploma and a set of transcripts arrived in the mail. The bachelors (Almeda) was a bit hazier. The forms were more professional. The whole layout, at that time, was reminiscient of the TESC website (coincidence?) and used key words like "Prior Learning Assessment" throughout the process. This process focused rather heavily on providing in-depth detail, all the while noting that I might well need to provide additional documentation for review (never happens).

    Now, I recognize that these enterprises shift frequently and I imagine their practices do as well. It just seems to me that the idea of walking in with zero credits and walking out with a degree, without coursework, isn't that outlandish of a thought. Many people have done something similar at Excelsior or TESC. If you look at the gentleman who went on trial for using a Concordia bachelors degree, he likely would have had significant progress toward a B.S. at TESC had he chosen that route (he was a police chief, who had received training at the FBI academy, had numerous certifications and had done recovery work at the WTC site).

    If that same person has absolutely no idea about how accreditation works, when they compare TESC to Almeda, their likely conclusion is simply going to be that one is much more expensive. Is there a hint of selfishness in there as well? Probably. But I don't believe it to be malicious selfishness so much as a self-interest in earning a degree quickly.

    I think it gets even murkier as you go up through the degrees. I see a goodly number of diploma mill doctorates on LinkedIn and a fair portion of them include links to their dissertations. Now, maybe they did that to help perpetuate their fraud. Or, maybe they actually DID some work and submitted it. Maybe that work is nowhere near doctoral caliber. Maybe it is. When I submit something for review, it's difficult to tell how critically it was reviewed. That's kind of how the scam went on for so long. I don't think people submitted things to that website hoping to fool others into thinking they were poets. I think the website gave them just enough to lead them to believe that their work was passing some sort of editorial review. I think the providers of diploma mill doctorates are doing something similar.

    We see people on here all the time looking for PhD by publication. There are people who research and write for fun. Some produce excellent work. Some produce horrible work. But when they encounter a "school" like Almeda, they submit their work and, after a brief period, are given the answer they wanted to hear. Maybe they've been rejected by other universities. Maybe they just didn't research very well and landed at Almeda first.

    I'm not saying that everyone who does this is being duped. There are undoubtedly a good number of people who intend to deceive others. I suppose my thought is that if your sole intention is to defraud, you will likely draw less attention to yourself if you just lie about receiving a degree from a reputable school rather than a place that has a Wikipedia entry dedicated to its sketchy nature.
  8. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    To clarify, I can understand someone not realizing that a school is substandard or that an accreditor is bogus. I once knew someone in that situation. But a degree for a credit card number? Color me skeptical.
  9. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    I get where you're coming from. I recounted my experience merely to highlight that some of these mills are better than others at making the experience feel more genuine than a credit card number = degree.
  10. Michigan68

    Michigan68 Active Member

    My two sense;

    I have to say that this thread started with bad judgement.

    When did members of this forum go from informing and helping to becoming the Degree Police ?

    I have always appreciated the opinions on degrees, programs, accreditation, but I do not want to be apart of a group that writes or approves of these actions.

    I hope things change.

  11. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    It is very disappointing to see so many holders of diploma mill's degrees in high positions. It is an injustice to the hardworking graduates of legitimate programs. Thanks to the information from degreeinfo I was able to informed a previous director of candidates before being hired with diploma mills. From my experienced, the undergraduates were mostly fine. It was the master or the phd which was bogus.
  12. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    This forum, going all the way back to the Usenet group that preceded it in the '90s, has always been the "degree police" in the sense that many people have not been shy with their opinions of bogus institutions. If people want to call bogus institutions for what they are, what's your reasonable objection to it?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2015
  13. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    Sometimes informing and helping involves informing people that they're considering a bogus "university" and helping them to see that their decision will backfire in the long run. You've been a member here for less than a year. Go back to the archives and you'll see this is nothing new at degreeinfo. I'm happy to say that we've played a small part in in the demise of a few of those places (please see the "Threat of the week" thread + others).

    I hope this does not change.:cop:
  14. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    Maybe I misread Michigan (Michael's) position, but I think his complaint was not that we were strongly advising against diploma mill degrees but more that people on this forum would take the action of notifying an employer of an employee's bogus degree then continue posting in disappointment over the fact that the employee wasn't fired.

    Informing and helping is good. But this thread basically started off with a public shaming of a named (and pictured) individual who likely already got raked across the coals because some strangers on the Internet came across her profile and notified her employer of a bogus degree.

    It would be like me combing through LinkedIn for Almeda "grads" and then firing off emails to their respective human resource people. I could do it. I wouldn't be lying. And, arguably, claiming a fake degree might put one in the position of deserving it. But that's a sort of vigilantism that makes people not want to participate in forums or maintain profiles on social media.

    Sorry, I just can't get behind public shaming. Diploma mill degrees irritate me but Internet shaming doesn't right the wrong.
  15. nyvrem

    nyvrem Active Member

    I apologize if my post offended anyone. My intention was to bring awareness to the current situation of people using bogus degrees to get a job. And in this instance, a job with a government agency that deals with sensitive information. I question the individuals intention to get a bogus MBA to put on her CV. if she really wanted to pursue her MBA, she could have done it from a reputable institute through online course offerings, or self study. But she did either. And IDA claims she took the MBA for personal interest. Again, she could have studied the topics for personal interest, yet she chose to buy a bogus degree to put on her CV for public to view. Will karma strike me for doing this ? Probably. But I know in my heart, I did it out of good intention to warn others about getting a bogus degree.

    Reports are coming out now, and the government agency is finally going to investigate the claims.

    IDA probes claim about employee's 'fake' MBA, AsiaOne Singapore News

    if nobody raised any awareness about this, and let the matter rest. We could be looking at an individual having a bogus degree working with high level sensitive data off the hook. i don't want that to happen. i honestly don't. what if 1 day you found out the midwife delivering your child is not exactly mid wife certified. She's just a junior nurse with a fake advance cert. You be comfortable having her deliver your child ? I won't. I know many honest people who work hard to earn their credentials, be it through DL or on campus. It's like giving these people a slap on their face cause someone decided to buy a degree with a credit card to secure a job.

    Again, i apologize if i offended you. this was not meant to be a vigilante mission.
  16. novadar

    novadar Member

    At least in the United States instances of health professionals with fake credentials is quite rare. Of course I would be alarmed if a my MD, Nurse Practitioner, or PA had a diploma mill degree but the situation in this thread was about a person with a MBA who already had that job based on her Bachelors.

    I am comfortable enough to let fate work on individuals in those situations rather than wasting my energy and breath trying to out them as individuals.
  17. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    You didn't misread his position and neither did I. My post was for the purpose of making a distinction between "members of this forum" and "this forum." I would like to make another distinction. nyvrem didn't out Nisha to her employer on this board and unless someone has information they have not yet disclosed, he was not the person who outed her to her employer. nyvrem essentially posted a news item about an outing that had already occurred. You might argue that he shouldn't have mentioned her by name and I might even agree but as much as I might want it to be true, I really don't think that members of the government of Singapore are reading degreeinfo (if I'm wrong I hope they stop lurking and make a comment here). Maybe a few people in Singapore are here off and on but then, they already knew about it (I'm guessing). So you (plural) may think that nyvrem did something he shouldn't have done and I might agree but I'm really not sure it warrants a lot of hand wringing. I think we all know there are a whole bunch of degree mill degree holders out there and many can be found with little difficulty. I don't see nyvrem or anyone else advocating that they be outed or "shamed."
  18. Steve Levicoff

    Steve Levicoff Well-Known Member

    Then go. No, seriously, stay. But do properly write the expression as “my two cents."

    I have to agree with the others – we have always been the “degree police,” as has almost every other similar forum dating back to the old Usenet Indeed, when I wrote Name It and Frame It over 20 years ago, I subtitled it New Opportunities in Adult Education and How to Avoid Being Ripped Off by “Christian” Degree Mills.

    These fora have always been about consumer awareness, which entails two missions: (1) discussing the best distance programs out there, and (2) exposing the worst shams, scams, frauds, and rip-offs. And discussing everything in between. Consumers have always been blissfully (or pathetically) unaware of accreditation and other credibility issues, and the harm done by degree mills extends to those who pursue and hold their degrees, especially if they purport to be in a helping profession.

    Now, this is a more thoughtful expression of the concern that many of us have had in terms of, for lack of a better term, “outing” individuals with questionable or even bogus credentials.

    Several years ago (some of y’all may remember this), I outed a professor at Mercer University, a reputable Christian school in Georgia, who had received her doctorate from a degree mill in the Caribbean. I did it by sending an e-mail to the school’s senior administrators with copies to the other faculty members in her department.

    Not unusually, I received a lawsuit threat, this time directly from the attorney she engaged. I almost thought it would be a fun lawsuit, since the attorney was a defamation specialist at a prestigious and very prominent Philadelphia law firm – it would have been nice to face a worthy adversary rather than one of the usual bozos who had either threatened or actually sued me in the past. But alas, in conversation with the attorney, she agreed that they did not have a legal cause of action to pursue – I had simply made a pronouncement based on my professional opinion, and based solely on public information available in the school’s published faculty listings.

    I do not know if the school ever took action. She may, in fact, have been a fine teacher (I wouldn’t be able to speculate either way), but she did, in fact, hold a degree mill credential. I am not in a position to speculate on the teacher’s motivation in getting such a degree; she may have been a shrewd operator or, just as possible, she may have been another dumb-ass victim of a degree mill who thought she was getting the real thing.

    Nonetheless, a thought occurred to me… What if, instead of merely getting pissed off and attempting to sue me, she had gotten sufficiently depressed by my exposé and committed suicide? I wouldn’t be worried about legal culpability in such a situation, but I would have felt like shit.

    Since then, I have never taken the initiative to “out” any individual, especially one I have never met and know merely from am academic catalogue listing.

    The people who operate degree and diploma mills? Yep, they’re fair game, as are their so-called schools. But unless I am aware that people who hold a mill credential (which can be defined as a degree, certification, ordination, ad infinitum are intentionally conning the public, I figure that I’ve done my bit for academic humankind, and it is no longer my responsibility to save people’s individual butts.

    The psyche in distance education is similar to when I hung out with the apologetics crowd in California – a “let's bust 'em” mentality in which the counter-cult crowd wants to bonk everyone over the head with a 97-pound copy of Walter Martin’s Kingdom of the Cults.

    A friend of mine graduated a few years ago with his second degree from U. of Phoenix. After he received his associates from UOP, we discussed the accreditation and profit issues and I recommended that he continue for his bachelor’s degree from Penn State, which not only had a better reputation but was cheaper at the time. However, he chose to remain with UOP since he had been happy there thus far. And, for what it’s worth, he was promoted within his company and remains happy with his UOP BSBA. So, regardless of what I may think of UOP (which is not much), who am I to judge?
  19. milsemouse

    milsemouse New Member

    I just wanted to say, posts like these may not be the reason I joined here in the first place, but the original post and (more importantly) other people's replies here are very informative, as someone always interested in the cheapest options for higher ed.

    We can disagree on the morality, or how they actions were done, but this kind of post is great.
  20. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    So, shortly after I got out of the Navy I got a job as a recruiter. And shortly after getting a job as a recruiter, I became a senior recruiter and had a small team under me. Ahh, it felt like my Petty Officer chevrons had been restored. I was feeling good and arrogant. Anyway, I had this employee who was average in a pool full of high achievers. There was nothing wrong with this guy. He did fine work. But the rest of us were doing stellar work (if I do say so myself). Much like when you're trying to walk swiftly down a narrow sidewalk and get stuck behind someone strolling, I was getting a bit frustrated with him.

    One day, by chance, I was reviewing personnel records to prepare for performance dialogues. That was when I noticed something which had gone completely unnoticed the entire time this guy was employed (about 5-6 years at this point). He never graduated with his bachelors. The job required a bachelors. He publicly claimed a bachelors. But he never, according to my paperwork, earned his bachelors. So, I called him in and confronted him.

    He assured me that he did, in fact, have his bachelors and had a set of transcripts sent right over. The new transcripts confirmed that the degree was awarded. Though, it had only been awarded about six months prior to my asking.

    That meant he was hired based on the assumption that he had earned his B.S. (likely based upon his anticipated graduation) and no one followed up to ensure he had actually completed the degree. That also meant that he had lied on every performance appraisal for a number of years by stating that he had completed his B.S. well before he actually did.

    So, I fired him. Swiftly and promptly.

    What had happened, I would later learn, was that he had applied for the job before his last semester of school (he was an adult learner who was already working in HR during his studies). He fudged his resume slightly. He didn't write that he had an anticipated graduation. So rather than get rejected outright as not having the necessary education, he went forward. He decided to postpone his final semester thinking that we really didn't care about the degree at all. After he had settled in, he learned that the B.S. thing was a requirement, not a preference, and was too afraid to mention the...ahem...clerical error on his resume. So, he quietly took night and weekend courses as his schedule would allow to finish up his requirements. He had finished the degree not terribly long before I called him on the subject.

    On the one hand, like the Mercer professor, this guy was claiming a degree that had not been earned. Now, maybe the Mercer professor acted out of ignorance more than anything. You could argue this guy was a "liar." In truth, he made the kind of editorial correction that a lot of people make on a resume. He got caught up in the excitement of having a better job (recruiter from HR assistant is a pretty decent hike in pay).

    Was I right? In some ways I think I was. Was I wrong? The guy took it pretty hard. He had never been fired. Granted, he found another job shortly afterward. What if he didn't? What if I had bothered to show up to his unemployment hearing and told them how he was fired for lying on his resume? That would be grounds to deny benefits in PA at that time. What if I had left this guy unemployed and destitute? How would I feel if he had gone out and killed himself or drank himself into oblivion and then took out a street corner full of kids? Probably not very good.

    Unlike Dr. Levicoff's example, I was his employer so I have a certain responsibility to my company to ensure policies are being followed. But my firing him also served no one's interests. I was then short staffed and had to spend time looking for another employee. This guy was unemployed and had to look for another job. If the exact same situation occurred again today, I would have probably written him up and carried on. He did have the degree just not when he said he had it. Maybe I just have a soft spot because this was the first person I ever fired. Or maybe I recognize that destroying peoples' careers as a hobby is not a nice thing to do. Sometimes it is necessary. Often there are preferable alternatives.

    Earlier someone raised the question of how I would feel if my wife's doctor had a diploma mill degree. Well, it depends. If he had a diploma mill M.D. then I am pretty angry at the state for giving him a license (I always check license status and disciplinary history for new providers). My doctor graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with his M.D. Beyond that, I don't care if he wants to claim to have a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Mastercard in Nevis. I care about the degree which qualifies him for his job. Additional degrees may speak to his character, judgment and hobbies. But the thing that I want to know when I'm about to get surgery is that my doctor is qualified to practice as a physician.

    The woman in Singapore holds a job that requires a bachelors degree. Her employer maintains that her bachelors is legitimate. The bogus MBA can be problematic but I can understand having that flexibility. My company employs welders. If one of them claims to have a Masters of Divinity from a known diploma mill, should I fire him? He doesn't need any degree to qualify for his job. The bogus degree doesn't impact his job. He's not trying to use his bogus degree to bilk money out of me. He just wants to tell people he has an M.Div. I would probably let it go. Now, if he had somehow received reimbursement for that degree or was using it to qualify for a position that required a Masters degree, we might have more of an issue.

    Point: There are a lot of people using diploma mill degrees successfully. I suspect there always will be. There will likely always be employers who just don't give a crap about accreditation. Is it a shame? I don't know, maybe? Maybe we place too much emphasis on degrees for jobs where a degree shouldn't really be necessary. Maybe some organizations are OK turning a blind eye to the useless paper because they can pretend they don't notice as they check the box next to "Has degree?" on the hire form. Maybe these people act out of greed. Maybe they act out of ignorance. They may hit a wall eventually but I see no need to run out in front of them and start building one.

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