FTC Shuts Down Diploma Mills for Peddling Useless Credentials

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The Federal Trade Commission says these operations bilked consumers out of $11 million for worthless high school diplomas.

Two Florida-based online diploma mills have been forced to close their doors.

In a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, Maria Garcia and Alexander Wolfram and IDM Services, LLC, conducting business as “Jefferson High School Online” and “Enterprise High School Online,” are now banned from marketing and selling academic degrees.

They allegedly deceived consumers into enrolling in their programs “by claiming they could obtain ‘official’ and accredited high school diplomas and use them to enroll in college, apply for jobs, and ‘receive the recognition [they] aspire for in life,'” the FTC said.

The defendants allegedly invented a fictitious accrediting body to “give legitimacy to the diploma mill operation,” according to a press release.

Consumers were tricked into believing that passing an online multiple-choice test and paying $200 to $300 would secure them a legitimate high school diploma. Sadly, the companies scammed consumers out of more than $11 million for worthless diplomas since 2009.

“These defendants took students’ money but only provided a worthless credential that won’t help their future plans,” Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s bureau of consumer protection, said in a September statement.

The defendants and their corporate relief defendants have also been ordered to pay more than $11.1 million, but the judgments have been partially suspended based on the defendants’ inability to pay.

“If the defendants or relief defendants are found to have misrepresented their financial condition, their entire judgment would become immediately due in full,” the FTC said.

If you’re interested in working toward a degree online, click here for some tips on how to avoid a diploma mill.

And for additional inspiration, watch this video about good jobs that do not require a four-year degree.

Have you pursued a degree online? Share your experiences below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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