AACRAO Publication: Bogus Institutions and Documents

April 19, 2021
  • AACRAO Publications
  • Credential Evaluation
  • academic fraud
  • AM22 Niche Populations
  • diploma mills
  • Niche Populations
Bogus Institutions Documents book cover.

This week AACRAO releases a new publication -- Guide to Bogus Institutions and Documents -- which highlights the past, current, and future state of fraudulent institutions, diploma mills, and counterfeit documentation. 

In addition to providing context and history, the authors provide recommendations for combating these issues going forward as many of them have been, and are, directly involved in efforts to combat these bogus institutions and diploma mills. 

The Whole Picture

A definition for the term “diploma mill” is a necessary part of any discussion of the current state of affairs and authors use the current Higher Education Opportunity Act (2008) definition throughout the guide. This definition is necessary as there can be, and often is, confusion surrounding what qualifies an institution as a "diploma mill" as opposed to an institution that educates, qualifies, or awards credit through a unique or innovative platform. Another point of distinction introduced is the difference between diploma mills and counterfeit degrees, the former referring to illegitimate institutions while the latter are forgeries of documents.

The Guide to Bogus Institutions and Documents covers much more than diploma mills however, authors discuss a wide range of fraudulent practices including:

  • Transcript Fraud
  • Accreditation Mills
  • Secondary School Credential Fraud
  • Fraudulent Evaluation Services
  • Bogus High Schools

The book gives readers real-world examples of various types of fraud, best practices for admissions and student record review, and guidelines for developing procedures and policy. The 264-page book is a great read for anyone, but especially for those working in the higher education profession. 

One especially entertaining chapter "How St. Regis University Hijacked Liberia" gives readers an in-depth accounting of how a small-time real-estate institute evolved into a multi-million dollar criminal organization with international ties to government leaders and embassies. 

Throughout the book, authors give insight into the perspectives from a variety of sources including higher education, security, consumer protection, government, and law enforcement. By utilizing these and other sources throughout the writing authors provide rich contextual background to the overall narrative. 

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Contributors to this guide include:

  • John B. Bear, Ph.D. | Author, speaker, and frequent consultant on diploma mills and fake degrees. 
  • Alan L. Contreras | Author and editor of several books primarily focused on higher education and natural history.
  • Ed Devlin | Former foreign credential evaluator with AACRAO International and former Director of Special Projects.
  • Allen Ezell | Retired FBI agent who led the 1980's diploma mill sting operation DIPSCAM.
  • George Gollin | Assisted the Operation Gold Seal task force that dismantled St. Regis University. 
  • Ann M. Koenig | Associate Director of AACRAO International and respected expert in document review and fraud detection.
  • Aleks Morawski | Director of Evaluation Services at Scholaro Inc. and recipient of NAFSA's 2020 Award for Outstanding Contributions to International Enrollment Management.
  • Aleksander Popovski | President and Senior Evaluator at Ucredo, a credential evaluation company endorsed by AICE.
  • Jasmin Saidi Kuehnert | Founder, President, and CEO of Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc.
  • Emily Tse |Director of Evaluations at International Education Research Foundation.


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