What do 30,500 unsuspecting Americans and I have in common? We’ve all purchased fake degrees from a diploma mill (see mine above). However, in their case, they didn’t know that the degree was fake.
The Eastern District of Michigan federal court has ordered the proprietor of Belford High School and Belford University to pay $22.7 million as part of a class action suit brought on by the 30,500 people that bought the phony diplomas. And while this would seem to be a victory for the class, that money is most likely long gone.
I’m having a hard time understanding how this many people could have been scammed, but would assume they were promised legit course work after they forked over $249 each.
And these people will now be victimized again if they include this “educational experience” on their resume and a potential employer conducts an employment background check.
Check out the full story below:
$22.7 million ‘diploma mill’ judgment for Flint woman, other plaintiffs, only a small victory, experts say
The business of “life experience degrees” took a blow when Pakistani businessman Salem Kureshi and his companies Belford High School and Belford University lost a $22.7 million federal class-action lawsuit earlier this year, but experts say the judgment will have only a small effect on what is a billion-dollar, international Internet scheme.
The lawsuit, which was originally brought against www.belfordhighschool.com by Flint native Carrie McCluskey, alleged that Belford High School takes students’ money by offering them an accredited high school diploma, but that Belford High School is not accredited by legitimate accreditation agencies and that the diplomas are not valid.
“Getting a GED can really help you start your life,” McCluskey, told the Flint Journal after filing her lawsuit in November 2009. “People who want to give you fake ones are saying they don’t care where your life will go. They’re just out for your money.”
“I’ve known for a long time that Belford was completely fake,” said George Gollin, a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a former elected official on the Board of Directors for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
“I would think that there are close to 200,000 fake degrees being sold every year, with the majority of those – at least 100,000 – coming in the U.S.”
Gollin has worked for years with retired FBI agent Allen Ezell and John Bear, an authority on distance education, as part of a watchdog group that helps bust up what he calls “diploma mills and scams by con artists.”
“I went to the Belford website originally to apply for a political science degree and I got one based on my life experiences involving watching television and reading newspapers,” Gollin said. “I wanted to see how far it would go and ultimately I got offered a doctorate in thoracic surgery at Belford University based off of my life experiences.”
Ezell, an FBI agent for 35 years, co-authored the book Degree Mills: The Billion-dollar Industry That Has Sold Over a Million Fake Diplomas and for 11 years was the head of the FBI’s DipScam task force charged with disbanding diploma mills.
On Oct. 24, 2011, after nearly two years of fighting the case, Kureshi submitted a declaration to the court, which stated in part that “The lawsuit has become cost-prohibitive to continue to defend. As a result, neither Belford nor I will continue to defend this case and, on behalf of myself and Belford, I consent to a default being entered against myself and Belford.”