Use of diploma Mill Credentials

Discussion in 'General Distance Learning Discussions' started by ebbwvale, Feb 15, 2013.

  1. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    I am interested as a non U.S. citizen about the use of diploma mill credentials. Until I became involved in DL in the U.S. environment, I had no idea that people used fake university credentials on the scale that they obviously do. In my own country, any credential not earned here is viewed as suspect and very good credentials are often overlooked because they are not local. Actually, I have often had a problem with this prejudice and ethnocentricism.

    All overseas credentials used by immigrants are run through an evaluation process before they can become engineers or medical practitioners. Even those with good credentials often have difficulties with professional bodies. The submission of a resume with a fake credential to a potential employer would be a punishable fraud under the law. I have never heard of a case here. I have hard of people claiming a degree from a legitimate university which they did not have, but no diploma mills. Of course, I might have to get out more as well.

    When an alternative university (some say degree mill) set up in an Australian Protectorate, the Australian Government legislated it out of existence. My question is what can governments do to destroy the diploma mill's markets and why don't they do it?
    I would think that CHEA could dictate higher standards for USDOE recognition. States could legislate to set standards comparable to CHEA requirements so universities in their state met USDOE requirements. In short, state approval could be a national standard set by CHEA. From an outside point of view, it is confusing why this does not happen. Surely, the interests of the ordinary people would be protected by doing so.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2013
  2. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    Some points you might want to consider:

    1. The US has a relatively weak central government by international standards (though many Americans find this hard to believe). Basically there is no legal requirement for a university to have federal (US Dept. of Education) recognition; this is only necessary for federal employment or federal financial aid.

    2. The CHEA is a non-governmental agency with no legal authority whatsoever. They cannot dictate standards to federal or state government.

    3. In practice, the standards for universities are determined by the individual states and other jurisdictions (DC, Puerto Rico, etc.), and there are 50+. Getting them all to agree on a common standard for anything is like herding cats. Some have tougher standards, others have looser standards.

    4. The US has a strong tradition of religious freedom, and many states exempt religious schools from government oversight to varying degrees.

    5. US states typically have licensing boards (which are separate from the universities) for professionals like doctors, lawyers, civil engineers, public accountants, etc. The boards scrutinize degrees carefully, and reject the questionable ones. So in practice, questionable degrees don't pose a public safety risk.

    It's true that US states have widely varying standards for universities, and this is admittedly confusing. One simple way to avoid this confusion is to stick with schools that have regional accreditation, which is universally accepted.

    In some states, such as Oregon, unaccredited degrees can only be used if they are accompanied by a legal disclaimer that explicitly spells out their unaccredited status. This policy seems to greatly discourage use of such degrees. However, most states don't have such policies.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2013
  3. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Do you have any historical info re: this now-defunct Australian mill? Just curious.

    Arlington University, Box 102, 60 Blair Street, North Bondi NSW, Australia

    That said, most of the degree mills are in cyberspace, or overseas (Pakistan, Ascension Island, BVI, Seychelles, Panama etc.) or even in countries that don't exist, like Seborga and Hutt River Province - that claims it's separate from Australia, by which it's surrounded. So increased US standards wouldn't affect them.

    Nobody is going to prosecute the mills. The authorities have other problems - like serious crime. Not even Salem Kureshi, who runs about 18 universities and several bogus accreditors from his apartment in Karachi Pakistan, will face prosecution. His Belford University has been successfully sued by an American law firm, but how and if/when the lawyers will actually collect the $20-odd million judgment obtained on behalf of their clients, has yet to be determined. I'm sure I could live better than Tony Soprano on what Salem Kureshi pays in bribes!

    The states are all different. Some, like Wyoming, do not allow unaccredited schools, and some, like California and Hawaii do, subject to certain rules. The States don't intervene academically - just on a consumer front - nobody runs off with money, there are real courses, proper refund policies etc. If all aspects of US higher-ed were Federally-controlled, as you suggest, the US might have a few less mills. But everything isn't Federally-controlled - and even so, the bulk of the bad schools are selling to the US (and other countries) from outside.

    Yes - places like Australia, UK, Canada, South Africa have all but purged mills from their landscape. So the cyber-mills, Seychelles-mills, BVI-mills, Irish mills Panama-mills etc. make all the money instead -and sell fake degrees over the Internet, to people in the mill-free countries. Crack down in one country, and they'll move to another.

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2013
  4. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    The State of Oregon (which is often thought to be the toughest US state on fake degrees) currently lists a number of "Unauthorized Schools and Invalid Degrees" with Australian connections. Maybe these have been shut down.

    However, at least one questionable school, American Culture University, currently claims to be legally established in the "Principality of Hutt River" (which to most people looks a lot like Western Australia)
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2013
  5. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Generally, decision makers at American colleges and universities do not want a more centralized role for the U.S. government in overseeing their activities. Unfortunately, they have been shortsighted in allowing the federal government to become the important source of student aid, which has come with enough strings attached to make academia look like a mummy.
  6. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    The "University of National Union" claims to be:

    They also claim ties to the Principato di Seborga and the State of Florida.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2013
  7. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Like I said. The mills are everywhere and nowhere!

    "Pakistan, Ascension Island, BVI, Seychelles, Panama etc. or even in countries that don't exist, like Seborga and Hutt River Province - that claims it's separate from Australia, by which it's surrounded..."

  8. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    The Hutt River Province is regarded here as a joke with no legal status whatsoever, just an act of an eccentric individual upset with Australian taxation (who isn't). If any university was being marketed out of there, I think the federal authorities would act regardless of any sensibilities inside Hutt River Province. There are very strict legal issues about the use of the word university. I will ask my local federal member about the university raised in this discussion and see what happens.

    Norfolk Island, which is an Australian Protectorate, passed a statute that allowed a university that was, at the least, controversial to operate there. The federal government legislated over the top of the Norfolk Island legislation to outlaw it. This is not something that the federal govt. here would have done likely. It was surpisingly quick in doing so. I also think that the "high handed" control over Australian Universities has its origins in foreign trade protection as we sell educational services into Asia.

    I guess the use of diploma mills may be limited here because we tend to be very parochial about degrees. Local institutions seem to win "head and shoulders" over offshore or, in some cases, even interstate universities. It appears that our federal government also exercises more control over states than in the U.S. There is often conflict but the federal government now controls much of the taxation system and allocates monies to the states. This has altered the power mix.

    I get the professional board controls that are in place and also the religious exemptions. We mirror the professional issues here, but diploma mills are getting business somewhere. It would be interesting what gate can be closed on them. Maybe the Oregon approach could be applied more generally?
  9. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    Or, those with a vested interest in the academic legitimacy of the credentials of a prospective employee, contractor, student, vendor, etc., could simply do basic due diligence, and suddenly no government action is required. I realize this varies by country, but it is costless and trivially easy to determine whether an American college or university has recognized accreditation.
  10. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    You can see official paperwork issued to American Culture University from the Principality of Hutt River (it's no longer just a "Province") at this page. ACU appears to be "licensed and permitted, to provide Educational programs, seminars, electronic learning and similar, leading to the granting of academic and professional degrees" by the Principality.

    According to ACU's home page, the scope of their academic offerings are quite broad:

    I suspect that both ACU and the University of National Union are targeting the Chinese market.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2013
  11. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    The Hutt River Province does not exist in legal reality. From memory, it started because of a dispute over taxation. An individual tried to secede from West Australia and the Federation. Something that was laughed about here. The principality is actually his own property. It has become a touristy quirky thing and I do not think that the WA police would consider that his principality existed in legal reality if a crime was committed upon it.

    It would like somebody in a US state on a small farm deciding to secede from the state and the Union. I suspect that nobody would take it seriously. I will, however, send it to my local member and see what the federal govt thinks. I don't live in West Australia so I don't know what they think. Universities are a federal issue anyway.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2013
  12. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    I understand that, and you understand that. But I suspect that there are people in China who don't understand that, and who do take "American Cultural University" or "University of National Union" seriously.
  13. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

    This is especially true because a very small percentage of students in China are admitted into the legitimate state sponored universities. Combine that with a growing Chinese middle class and you can easily see how a group of people with some (but not a lot) of money and some (but not a lot) of knowledge of the West might be suckered into buying credentials from a mill.
  14. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    This is from an old DI thread listing "Universities" registered in Hutt River Province:

    Southern Pacific University (had displayed an NBOE accreditation certificate signed by H.K. Lorhan)
    Pebble Hills University
    Johnson Davids University Inc.
    Australasia International University Inc.
    Hutt River University Ltd.
    Bryce University, GmbH

    Interestingly, (to me) Heidi K. Lorhan, mentioned above, took part in the widely-followed "St. Regis University" mill-scandal. She received a sentence of one year and one day in prison. Her mother, Dixie Randock, was sentenced to three years. That info. from here:

    I have no idea how many of these "schools" are still operating - from HRP or elsewhere. I believe Pebble Hills is still actively selling degrees. Here's the whole thing: • View topic - Hutt River Province Universities

    At one time, Prince Leonard (Casley), ruler of HRP had plans to build a B&M University and a Medical School! Dunno what happened. Hmmm - if you go to the doctor, check his/her diploma! :sad:

    BTW - any news or history yet on my favourite Australian mill (of the past) - Arlington University, North Bondi NSW? There is an Arlington U. website "under construction" (for the past 2-3 years) but it's not the same school.

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2013
  15. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Autolinks again!

    Those doggone Autolinks! Where I mentioned "Saint-R-e-g-i-s-University" the link went directly to the Regionally Accredited R-e-g-i-s University, which is entirely different and has nothing to do with the other school named.

    (1) S-a-i-n-t R-e-g-i-s University was a Liberian-rubber-stamped-mongrel that landed several of its perpetrators in the juzgado.

    (2) R-e-g-i-s University is a fine, well-known RA American school.

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 16, 2013
  16. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    In my position as a Dean at my university, I have had experience with diploma mill degree holders who have applied for adjunct faculty positions or who have applied for admission to the university. There are not that many and, of course, we reject these applications.

    Lately, we have witnessed a significant increase in the number of high school diploma mills. These operations often have professional looking websites and tout their "prestigious" accreditation from non-recognized (and other wise unknown) "accrediting bodies." They typically charge folks a few hundred dollars to take one or more Online open-book multiple choice exams, after which a high school "diploma" is issued. The Department of Education and Kaplan University each have "blacklists" of non-recognized schools and we maintain our own list where we include the DOE and Kaplan blacklists and bogus schools that we have have discovered.

    Since accreditation does not matter as much in K-12 as it does in higher ed and there are a lot of legitimate private schools, the high school diploma mills are often harder to discern than college mills. In fact, several students who were rejected by us had been accepted by state universities who, apparently, were less careful about screening their applicants.
  17. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    I see that the "Principality" has had some pressure put upon it:

    Principality of Hutt River Government

    I will see about the American Culture University which actually has the same acronym as ACU (Australian Catholic University - a very legitimate university here). Obviously, it is not being run from Australia which takes it outside Australian jurisdiction. I cannot find it on the Hutt River site so it can make all the claims it wants unless the jurisdiction it is situated in shuts it down.

    In respect of the Bondi one, I cannot get the website up, but I suspect it was operating at the same time as the Norfolk controvesy and went down at the same time. The Hutt River list provided from the Degreediscussion thread was operating around about the same time as the Norfolk enterprise. I guess the caveat"buyer beware" applies to the employer and the potential employee. Perhaps a ramping up of penalties for using these credentials might be a good start. An intelligence listing of fraudulent institutions where information can be readily checked, like the colleges apparently have, might be useful.

    As said previously in a thread, these mills are raking in a very significant amount of money.
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2013
  18. ebbwvale

    ebbwvale Member

    I emailed the "Principality" and informed them of the American Culture University. Here is the reply:
    "There are no educational institutions registered, endorsed, accredited by this Principality at all outside of our own Royal College of Advanced Research and Royal College of Heraldry.

    This Principality does not register, endorse or accredit educational or financial institutions.

    Unfortunately we suffered in the past with an unscrupulous confidence trickster located in Queensland, Australia and New Zealand who, with his company GT Group (now changed to Ready Made Company Inc) and other derivations operated by the Taylor family inc the Southern Pacific University, was doing all sorts of things in the name of this Principality (a problem that we still experience from various others in some areas from time to time). This is not a problem only experienced by the PHR either, many countries suffer in the same way, this Taylor group is still operating, recently having been caught involved in arms smuggling to Iran and is still operating whilst claiming to be located and registered in a host of various countries but in fact only located in Queensland and registered in New Zealand.
    As we uncover these "crooks" we do publish warnings and our security services are handed the problem and it is their task to take on the charlatans and crooks and have each shut down.

    We are constantly seeking information and evidence of such false operators so that we may act upon them.

    The previous Registrar of Companies for the PHR many years ago did register some educational institutions without our knowledge (most of them were under his ownership!) and he was dismissed once we uncovered his "sideline" operation and all such registrations (non were in fact official) were contacted and advised that their registrations were unlawful and that they were to remove any and all references to the PHR from all publication, most have in fact done so.

    Please read notices at the following links:..

    Principality of Hutt River Government

    Principality of Hutt River Government

    Office of the Principality of Hutt River Registrar of Companies & Banks

    The matter of this ACU which is not registered, endorsed or accredited by this Principality will now be looked into and this information has been forwarded to our appropriate agencies for investigation/action.

    Any further information that you may have to hand concerning this organisation, especially evidence of being a "Diploma Mill" (as we have never had any evidence or complaints of any wrong doings by them as such) we would much appreciate for our files and the source of such information would be treated with the utmost of confidentiality.

    Thankyou for informing us of the claims made by ACU which we will now address with them."
  19. Johann

    Johann Well-Known Member

    Indeed. The guy I love to hate, Salem Kureshi, the multi-milliner of Karachi, owner of almost innumerable fake universities, also has three bogus High Schools in his "port-foolio."

    Woodfield High, Belford High and Rochville High show up here, along with his score or so of fake Universities:

    Salem Kureshi OGLE Universities

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2013
  20. CalDog

    CalDog New Member

    OK, so ACU is falsely advertising cancelled licenses/registrations from a phony country.

    Does anyone think that a sternly worded letter from the Hutt River Principality will change this, or that HRP has any further ability to take "action" ?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2013

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