In this article, Brody and Ezell explore the issue of counterfeit educational credentials that have existed for many years and whose proliferation has been fueled by technological advancements and weak legislation. One of the requirements for employment is the possession of legitimate educational credentials from a recognized institution of learning. Employers verify them by validating degrees and official transcripts. However, many prospective employees have learned how to obtain fraudulent certificates to land the jobs of their dreams.
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Many company investigators are unable to determine whether the credentials are legit or fake because advanced technologies are used to produce certificates that look legit from recognized institutions. The authors note that the widespread production of counterfeit credentials has been fueled by technological advancements and the proliferation of fraudulent institutions that offer online degrees. Diploma and degree mills are the two main online sources of counterfeit academic qualifications. The problem has existed for many years and has persisted in contemporary society because of technological advancements.
DipScam was the largest US federal effort to eradicate the problem of counterfeit academic documents that ended in 1991. It attained positive results because it reduced the number of degree mills significantly. However, the problem came back with the advent of the Internet. Governments across the world have a difficult time addressing the issue because diploma ad degree mills use advanced technologies to hide their identities. The authors state that the US government does not take the matter seriously because it is neither a violent nor a matter of national security.
However, the consequences of using counterfeit documents to get employment or enter the United States are good enough reasons for the government to take the matter seriously. The authors argue that counterfeit credentials have several downsides. They devalue legitimate ones, encourage fraud, and pose risks to clients especially in careers such as medicine. Also, unqualified medical practitioners risk the lives of their clients because of the lack of knowledge regarding the diagnosis and treatment of diseases. Bogus credentials are a risk to national security because many people use them to enter the United States posing as students. Degree and diploma mills are earning millions of dollars from individuals who are too lazy to dedicate their time and resources to study.
To fight counterfeit credentials, many states provide lists of accredited schools that are allowed to offer degrees and diplomas. For example, any college offering credentials in the state of Oregon must be accredited by the Oregon State Office of Degree Authorization. On the other hand, several bills have been enacted to protect the integrity of higher education degrees. For example, a bill introduced by Betty McCollum aims to fight degree mills by calling on the government to develop uniform standards of determining the legitimacy of degrees, diplomas, and certificates. If passed, the bill will require foreign students to possess admission letters from valid institutions.
Moreover, prospective employees will be required to possess credentials from eligible institutions. The government offers resources that help people in checking whether their degrees are valid. The United States Department of Education and the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers provide information that helps in the validation of educational credentials. It is unethical and illegal for people to further their careers using phony documents at the expense of their employers. The authors suggest the dedication of sufficient resources in the performance of thorough backgrounds and validation of credentials presented by prospective employees to ensure that they were obtained from accredited institutions of learning.