Degree Mills: A Country Littered With Fake Degrees

Degree mills in the United States have sold over a million fake diplomas. Find out what makes a degree mill and how government agencies have responded to these big businesses throughout history.

| September 2012

Do you know where your doctor, lawyer or professor earned his or her degree? You might want to double-check the fine print because a diploma on the wall is no guarantee. In Degree Mills, former FBI Agent Allen Ezell (Retired) and John Bear, Ph.D., expose the underground world of degree mills. A world where sales exceed $500 million a year and over a million fake degrees hang proudly in doctors’, clergymen’s and other professionals’ offices. Find out what constitutes a degree mill and how government agencies have responded to this blight throughout history in this excerpt from “Introduction: Another Day at the Office.”  

For Nicolas Tanasescu, it’s just another day at the office

He takes the trolley from his flat at the western edge of Bucharest, Romania, and gets off at Calea Victoriei. He walks half a block down a nondescript street in the business district of the Romanian capital city and turns left into a narrow passageway, Pasajul Victoriei. Number 48 is an old red-brick two-story building. Downstairs is a bar, “TZ’s Cotton Club,” and a modeling agency called Top Model. Nicolas climbs an unmarked wide staircase leading to the upper floor.

It is nearly 10 p.m., and there is a steady stream of men and women climbing those stairs for their night’s work. The office runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, but the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. shift is the busiest, with about fifty people—Romanians, South Africans, and a scattering of other nationalities—sitting at computer terminals in what they call the DL Room: an array of small drab cubicles.



Most are in their twenties and thirties. All of them speak excellent, if slightly accented, English. Like most of the others, Nicolas earns just over a dollar an hour. That’s not a great wage even in this economically depressed country, but with unemployment around 10 percent, he is glad to have work.

He fits a telephone headset and microphone apparatus to his head, adjusts the small computer screen, and settles in for his night’s work: telephoning potential customers all over North America.

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