Guess Who’s Holding a Degree?  The answer may surprise you…
If you're not researching Educational backgrounds, here's a surprising story you'll want to read.  (You won't believe who's holding a sham diploma…..)
CONGRATULATIONS, Colby Nolan! Last year Colby scored a.3.5 grade point average in an MBA program, earning a degree that's sure to make his
resume shine.  His only problem will be trying not to meow in his job interviews.  You see, Colby is not an eager young man with a golden future
in business, he's a black house cat.  In fact, Colby is the pet of a prosecutor in the Pennsylvania attorney general's office, who used Colby's name
in a sting operation against Trinity Southern University.
Never heard of the school?  No wonder.  Officials say Texas-based Trinity Southern was one of hundreds of "diploma mills" - so-called institutions
of higher learning that have little or no legitimate coursework.  Their only real requirement appears to be a valid credit card.  Colby's degree,
on thick paper embossed with a gold seal, cost him just $399.  Another $99 bought a realistic transcript showing he'd earned A’s and B's in
classes that included accounting and finance.
Colby's sheepskin shows how anything goes in the crooked - and wildly profitable - world of diplomamills.  Author John Bear, who has studied diploma
mills for years, once scanned resumes posted on the job-search site, looking for names of bogus schools.  He stopped when he reached
5,000.  "I'm not paranoid, but they're everywhere," says Allen Ezell, a former FBI agent who investigated diploma mills.  Bear estimates the Fake Degree
Industry may have doubled over the past five years, due to the internet, now reaping revenues of as much as $500 million annually.  A simple web search
can locate an online mill in minutes, using the phrase "need college diploma," or “buy a college degree”, searches quickly turns up sites advertising a
degree within 30 days for $199, complete with a money back guarantee.  Some sites list degrees by price, menu-style.  Some may require a token effort,
like writing papers; others award diplomas simply based on life experience, which apparently means you qualify if you have a pulse.  Many require
nothing at all - besides cash.
There would be no booming diploma business, though, without clients ready to lie their way to the top.  In Georgia last year, six Gwinnett
County public school teachers resigned after it was revealed that their advanced degrees, which earned them pay raises of up to $7,000, came from
Liberia-based St. Regis University.  In 2002 a North Carolina jury convicted "doctor" Laurence Perry on charges of involuntary manslaughter
and practicing medicine without a license after his treatment led to the death of an 8 year-old diabetic girl.  Among Perry's bogus credentials was
a degree from the unaccredited John F. Kennedy College of Nutrimedical Arts and Sciences in Gary, Indiana.
The bottom line, it's up to employers to check credentials, unless they don't mind taking a chance on hiring someone from a school that
would graduate a cat.
- Excerpt from Reader’s Digest, May 2005 – That’s Outrageous! – Michael Crowley