Officials warn of Internet degree scams

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(Host) State education officials are warning Vermonters to beware of online degree scams. They say they’re receiving an increasing number of calls from people wondering about the legitimacy of college degrees offered over the Internet.

While many colleges offer academic programs online, there are also fraudulent degrees being sold by non-existent institutions. These fake diplomas can cost several thousand dollars. Education officials are concerned that consumers may end up paying for bogus degrees before discovering it’s a scam. Don Vickers is president of the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation:

(Vickers) “Years ago, we used to see on the inside of a matchbox cover for a degree or you would also see them in a magazine. What’s happened now is with the advent of the Internet, it’s a lot easier to get information to a wider audience. And it may look a lot more appealing because a lot of legitimate programs are offered over the Internet as well as those that are really degree scams.”

(Host) Vickers says the bogus online institutions often use names similar to real universities. The tip off is the amount of work required. Susan Englese of the Vermont Higher Education Council says the fraudulent degrees require very little effort.

(Englese) “Some will claim that you have to write one paper, or have you fill out a form with your hobbies, your work and life experience and then award a degree from that.”

(Host) Englese acknowledges that many people knowingly buy fake degrees in hopes of getting a better job. That’s why officials are also warning employers to check the resumes of job applicants. It’s estimated 300 diploma mills operate nationally.

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