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Missouri Officials Warn of Fake Diplomas

The Missouri Department of Higher Education plans to propose legislation that would make it illegal to get a job or a promotion in Missouri using a phony degree. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports.
Officials estimate 200,000 fake diplomas are bought and sold in the United States each year from so-called “diploma mills.”

Zora Mulligan Aubuchon, assistant commissioner for the Missouri Department of Higher Education, says the term “diploma mill” can include a range of different scam operations.

Aubuchon said another form of diploma mills is where the applicant does a little bit of academic work in order to get a degree, but nothing comparable to the coursework found at the university level.

One diploma mill went by the name “St. Regis University,” which is a bogus institution. It was discovered by federal authorities and shut down in 2005, but not before it had sold 7 million dollars worth of fake diplomas, including ones claiming to be from the University of Missouri.

Aubuchon says new legislation is needed in Missouri clearly stating that producing and using fake degrees is against the law.
"To get an idea of just how easy it would be to fake a diploma, I’m going online right now to Google…I’m gonna type in here “get a fake diploma.” Let’s see what it comes up with…okay, there are about 500,000 hits..."

Zora Aubuchon says the department of higher education occasionally gets calls from employers who are skeptical as to whether the applicant really holds a degree.

She added that it may not be sufficient just to look at an applicant’s transcript or to ask to see a diploma.
Aubuchon said employers can always call a university’s registrar, which should be able to tell the employer if someone graduated from that school.

For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.