Republished and re-written on 2013:
This news originally reported in Straits Times (Singapore) in 2007, is updated based on the successful lawsuit against Belford University in 2012.
In 2007, the following excerpt of the news was originally reported in a local newspaper by a journalist in Apr 2007, that he received two university degrees, 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, and he paid only US$349 for the degrees excluding freight charges without any studying on his part or examinations to take. Belford University’s hotline assured him that Belford University degrees are perfectly legal, properly accredited and accepted all over the world. The qualification for the Belford online degree was that the candidate must have sufficient ‘life experience’ or an ‘online equivalency test’ which can be done under one hour. It was said that the university seal is embossed on the degree and looks authentic.
In August 2012, Belford University, Belford High School and their co-conspirators were ordered to pay more back to the victims of their scams. According to the lawsuit, there are more than 30,000 US citizens scammed into buying the fake degree/diploma. The total payback for the scam ordered by the court is more than $22.7million. The websites used for the scams were ordered to be taken down:
www.belfordhighscool.com, www.belfordhighschool.org, www.belforduniversity.org, and www.belforduniversity.com
The lawsuit, filed on November 5, 2009, alleged that Belford High School is an internet scam that defrauds students of their money. The lawsuit alleged that Belford High School takes students’ money by offering them a supposedly “valid” and “accredited” high school diploma, but that the school is fake and the diplomas are not valid. The lawsuit alleged that the two accrediting agencies by which Belford claimed to be accredited – International Accreditation Agency for Online Universities and the Universal Council for Online Education Accreditation – are not legitimate accrediting agencies. The lawsuit alleged that these two accrediting agencies, like Belford, are fake. The judgment entered by the Court confirmed these facts as true. From July 2010 to October 2011, Belford was represented by The Miller Law Firm of Rochester, Michigan. The Miller Law Firm opposed class certification on behalf of Belford during its period of representation, but the Court rejected the arguments made on behalf of Belford and certified the case as a class action.
For more information of the class action lawsuit can be found at http://www.belfordlawsuit.com/
How to avoid university and diploma scam?
1) Always check with the local education ministry (GOV sites, NOT org sites), to confirm that the educational institute is accredited.
2) Do not believe any “Accreditation” website that is linked to from the education service provider. Only GOV sites are recognised as belonging to the government.
3) Check out to make sure that there is a physical address.
4) Never trust a certificate, degree or diploma that can be obtained within a very short time and at a very low cost.
In fact, para 1 is more than enough, the rest are additional checks.
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