Fake diploma businesses in a pandemic
The old adage “if one falls, a thousand springs up” aptly describes the problem of fake diplomas. There will always be fake diplomas as long as there is a demand and market for it, regardless of how many illegal businesses are shut down. Furthermore, the pandemic creates more opportunities for fraudsters to carry out their schemes.
Illegal businesses with lucrative revenue in pandemy
A Pakistan-based IT company that once produced and sold fake diplomas is suspected to be back in business again after being shut down by the authorities several years ago. The $140 million fake diploma business is one of the most shocking cases, tarnishing Pakistan’s image abroad and eroding aspiring students’ confidence. According to Gulfnews, before the boss of the company was arrested and jailed by Pakistani authorities in 2018, the company handled around 5,000 calls a day, with 60% of them coming from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and the rest were from the USA and other countries. Their call center used fluent Arabic and English so that no potential clients would get suspicious.
Now, the company is suspected to be back into business under a different name, targeting prospective students who cannot attend face-to-face lectures due to the pandemic. The News said the company used the websites www.calbrooksuniversity.education, www.mountwilliam.university and www.rfu.education, to offer fake diplomas. The university names used as domains of the websites, of course, do not exist in the actual world. The company is also said to have made a fantastic revenue. In June, they made 1.8 million US dollars.
A similar case happened In Indonesia. A student was arrested by the authorities for selling fake elementary to master’s degree diplomas. He offered the fake diplomas through social media since May 2021. He stated that the amount of money he made was incredible, amounting to tens of millions of rupiah, and that it had been utilized to fulfill his daily necessities.
The fight against fake diplomas
The lucrative revenue indicates that the market and demand for fake diplomas have not subsided regardless of the pandemic. The pandemic itself has caused an economic downturn in the midst of an increasingly competitive labor market, which makes people feel more vulnerable, and fraudsters take advantage of this. Moreover, the fact that more and more people are doing all their activities online amid the pandemic opens up greater opportunities for fraudsters to offer their online services.
It takes collaboration of stakeholders, in this case the government, universities, and companies, to fight against the circulation of fake diplomas.
Investigating and taking down the websites are among the many efforts that the government can do to battle the spread of fake diplomas.
On the companies’ side, it is necessary to conduct a thorough screening to prevent recruiting candidates with false educational qualifications. Hiring candidates with fake diplomas puts the company at high risk for both reputation and financial losses.
As for legal universities or higher education institutions whose names are profiteered for fake diplomas, their reputation is threatened. Therefore, they must carry out their functions honestly and exert more effort to prove their integrity and ultimately maintain their reputation.
One of the efforts that can be taken is to verify the educational documents of their alumni. In practice, however, document verification by telephone, email, and fax is often inefficient.
A one-stop verification platform is the answer to this problem. Through a one-stop verification platform such as www.education-verification.com, the document verification process will be more efficient in terms of time and resources. In the Education Verification platform, the name of the verifier is recorded in the system, which maintains accountability in the verification process. Moreover, the verification is done in a two-step process: verification by the academic staff and confirmation by a supervisor, which promotes a check-and-balance process. All results can be accounted for and are guaranteed to be accurate.