· Diploma mills often charge a fee ranging from $50 to $5,000 for a bachelor's, master's, Ph.D. or other such degree. Buyers only have to provide money to get a professional-looking sheepskin and transcript they can show potential employers. Other diploma mills require buyers to complete cursory work, such as writing a short essay, before sending out the degree.
· A federal investigation is underway to determine how any employees list diploma-mill degrees on their résumés and whether tax dollars are funding sham credentials. The investigation is only into diploma mills, not outright résumé falsification. A 2002 probe by the federal General Accounting Office found more than 1,200 résumés on a government Internet site listed degrees that actually came from diploma mills. Some states also are passing laws making it a crime punishable by jail time to use fake degrees for landing a job or raise.
· There are more than 400 diploma mills and 300 counterfeit diploma Web sites, and business is thriving amid a lackluster economy — doubling in the past five years to more than $500 million annually, according to estimates kept by John Bear, author of Bears' Guide to Earning Degrees By Distance Learning.
· To help maintain the image of legitimacy, some diploma mills have phone operators who verify graduations to employers who call. They can also send the transcripts directly to employers. A few even offer class rings and laminated student ID cards.
· Patients trusted Gregory Caplinger, who told them he was going to market a drug to treat AIDS and cancer. Investors trusted him and gave him money. Caplinger claimed he had a medical degree from Metropolitan Collegiate Institute in Great Britain. An expert witness for the government testified that a medical degree from MCI could be bought for $100 with no study required. He said he was nominated for a Nobel Prize in medicine by a British hospital, which court documents say was merely a mail drop. One couple gave him $30,000 for advice about cancer treatments for family members. An actress who was HIV positive was treated at his clinic. The North Carolina man was convicted of six counts of wire fraud and two counts of money laundering, and was ordered to pay more than $1 million in restitution as part of his 2001 sentencing. (Armour)