Consortium struggles to halt fake degree menace on net

December 21, 2001

British universities are being targeted by internet scams aiming to make money from their reputations.

A businessman who was supposed to have been stopped by a High Court order from offering fake degrees is still selling certificates on the internet. In August 1999, solicitors representing a UK-wide consortium of 146 universities and higher education colleges obtained an injunction restraining the man from offering the fakes and ordering him to name those who had bought counterfeits.

But this week, after a reporter for a Welsh newspaper was offered a fake Cardiff University degree certificate for £135, the business offering the certificates was contacted at fakedegrees.co.uk for further information.

An email was received saying: "I specialise in supplying authentic looking Fake Degree certificates and Impressive Diploma's (sic), from Educational Establishments throughout the World, including, U.S.A., Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and many other Countries."

A spokeswoman for Universities UK said UUK had been unable to locate the individual concerned.

UUK chief executive Baroness Warwick said: "We have taken a strong line on this issue in the past and we will continue to work to counteract those who attempt to falsify qualifications."

In another incident, a website offering replica degree certificates from institutions including Lancaster and Staffordshire universities has been selling the documents for $880 (£600) each. The Lancaster "certificates" carried the official crest but no signature.

A university spokeswoman said: "The company said it thought that all orders came from graduates. But the fine print said the certificates were for entertainment purposes only. They were quite a good likeness." The university has taken legal advice.

The website has closed down and displays a message: "We apologizes ( sic ) for all copyright infringement."

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