8 Outrageous Frauds Involving Online Degrees

Jason Morris

Widespread marketing and misrepresentation have resulted in a glut of phony degrees, and you should check any alleged accreditation against the US Department of Education Database. Sometimes though, it is not only the phony college who benefits, as the list below will reveal.

Craig and Alton Poe formed the Trinity Southern University (TSU) in January 2004 and offered “degrees” in a variety of subjects for a fee between $299 and $499. They hacked into 60 Pennsylvania businesses to distribute over 18.000 spam emails advertising the scam. Using a bogus résumé for the deputy attorney general´s cat, investigators were able to acquire an MBA degree for “Colby” with a 3.5 grade point average. In March 2005 the brothers were fined a total of $131.000 for their fraudulent actions.

Trenda Halton of Peoria, Arizona defrauded the government of nearly $540.000 by recruiting 136 people to pose as students and enrolling at the Rio Salado College in Tempe over a 15 month period from July 2006. By having her recruits participate in online “classes”, Ms Halton received federal student loans and Pell Grant money. The scam came to light when handwriting on application forms was found to be similar, and Halton, plus 23 other defendants, have now been ordered to repay $793.073.

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Jason Morris

President & Chief Operating Officer at EmployeeScreenIQ
A veteran screening and risk management professional, Jason Morris founded EmployeeScreenIQ in 1999 and acts as the company’s chief operating officer and president. Morris is a frequent speaker delivering captivating, interactive discussions on background checks, global screening, recruitment and staffing. He educates audiences in best practice initiatives as they relate to organizational employment screening programs. Morris has been quoted in numerous business and industry publications including The Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, USA Today, New York Times, among others. He is also a licensed private investigator in the states of Ohio, Illinois, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona and Nevada.
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  • Your introduction is not accurate. You say, “Sometimes though, it is not only the phony college who benefits, as the list below will reveal.”

    By saying this, you are implying that Rio Salado College is a “phony college” and that it benefited from the fraud. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Rio Salado is properly accredited. The college has multiple accreditations from reputable agencies, which include the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Also, Rio Salado and it’s students were the victims of fraud, and the college did not benefit from the fraud.

  • A lot of thanks a thousand for your motivating articles.