Straits Times journalist from Singapore, Lim Yee Hung reported in a newspaper article that he received two university degrees last week. One is an associate degree in Criminal Justice and the other is a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. It took him just one week to get both degrees. If university degrees are that easy to get, they are probably fake degrees.

He went on to say in the report that he got the associate criminal justice degree from Belford University and the journalism degree from True Diplomas paying a total of US$349 for the degrees excluding freight charges without any studying on his part or examinations to take.

He called Belford University’s hotline before buying the degrees and was assured that Belford University degrees are perfectly legal, properly accredited and accepted all over the world. In order for an applicant to qualify for a Belford online degree, the candidate must have sufficient ‘life experience’ or an ‘online equivalency test’ which can be done under one hour.

True Diploma have no degrees of their own to offer for they sell replica and imitation degrees from about 115 genuine universities including Ivy League universities such as Brown University and Cornell University. The degrees offered by True Diploma are certainly fakes and they tell you upfront about it.

When Lim received The Belford University degree, he found that it was very impressive. Along with the degree package were also educational transcripts with grades for each module. The university seal is embossed on the degree and looks authentic. How could there be grades and transcripts if tests and examinations are not taken?

The journalism degree though can be easily spotted as a fake. There are glaring misspelling and grammatical errors. For example, in his degree, December was spelt as Decemberf.

He reported that in the United States, fake degree scams are so rampant that the problem is seen as a national security threat. An audit in May 2004 showed that a total of 463 employees in the federal government had fake academic degrees. Some were even high ranking officials in sensitive positions with top level security clearance to boot.

According to fake degree mill expert John Bear, co-author of Degree Mills, fake degree mills are a billion dollar industry having sold thousands of fake online degrees and diplomas every week internationally.

Although some employers may check the qualifications of a prospective employees directly by calling up the university which awarded the degrees, this screening may not be effective against some degree mills as some of these degree mills provide verification services. Employers who called are told that the job applicant is indeed a graduate from that particular university.

However, not all college and university online degree programs are frauds. There are some great universities such as Harvard University offer online degrees.

So if you want to get an online degree, then it is prudent for you to do a thorough due diligence and check with your local educational authorities for the online university’s authenticity so that you will not end up with a fake degree by a costly mistake.

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