Degree fraud refers to crimes committed in relation to higher education qualifications. It commonly falls under fraud, forgery, trademark or copyright legislation. There are four ways to describe degree fraud:
- bogus universities
Government agencies maintain a register of who is and isn’t allowed to award valid degrees. To get around this, fraudsters invent universities that pretend that their degrees are recognised by the UK government. These bogus universities might also plagiarise the branding of real universities.
- fake certificates
These are counterfeit documents meant to look like genuine degrees. Like bogus universities, they can come from completely invented universities or plagiarise the name and branding of institutions.
- confidence tricks
If someone is particularly gifted at lying, then they might be able to pass an interview stage with the power of bluffing. This also might occur if there are minimal requirements to demonstrate knowledge before getting a job.
- essay mills
This is distinct from the others as this takes place while a student is at university. It is possible to commission original essay material from companies in order to submit as their own work. If a student pays to pass all their essays, then this isn’t much different from buying a degree.
10 core discussion points
This year saw the first-ever degree fraud awareness week where industry experts provided information on what to look out for to avoid being a victim of degree fraud, we’ve listed the top 10 takeaways below.
1. 48% of SMEs and 49% of employers have experienced degree fraud – it’s far more common than assumed!
2. Not verifying degrees increases the risk of internal fraud. The losses can be massive for a company and fake degree vendors are able to blackmail their clients into handing over money or data from your organisation.
3. If a candidate pays enough for a fake degree, then it may be indistinguishable from the real thing. It is never enough to rely on asking for a certificate alone.
4. Always fill out the verification form based on what is on the degree certificate as this reflects student records.
5. If in doubt with a HEDD verification, always contact giant before the verification goes through. Fixing one mistake beforehand means a correct verification comes back as soon as possible.
6. CIFAS illustrated the lengths that someone will go to in order to defraud a company. Paying for a fake degree is one of the easiest methods out there.
7. Verification is the quickest way to identify issues before onboarding. Many verifications are returned within 48 hours.
8. Making degree verification best practice lets fraudsters know that your company has safeguards in place and is watching.
9. We list over 300+ bogus providers, so always check the name of the university against the database.
10. Confirmation of attendance is not the same as confirmation of the award. We are seeing incidents of final-year students who have been excluded from their university course using fake degrees in lieu of genuine qualifications.
In addition to all other potential fraud considering degree fraud may seem overwhelming. This is why a lot of people outsource this requirement to an expert. When you outsource your pre-employment screening to a company like giant, you gain access to capabilities and facilities otherwise not accessible or affordable. We can also help you leverage knowledge and skills that you may not have in your company. We have decades of experience not only understanding the compliance requirements but also calling on knowledge of industry best practices.