dcsimg
You are here:

The Online School Scams Keep on Coming

Online schools are fantastic. There are so many benefits of online schools that it's hard to know where to begin... that is, as long as the online school you pick is a good one. Unfortunately, every day more and more people get scammed by a booming underground industry of "colleges" that equate to nothing more than diploma mills devoid of content.

This week, ABC News investigates how online college scams have affected the lives of everyday people, and what led them to sign up in the first place. 59-year-old medical assistant Diane Cerulli, praised for years by friends and family for her knack with medicine, was drawn in by the promise of something more: "'I always wanted to be a doctor, and I thought this was a dream come true,' [she] said... After taking the multiple-choice test, Cerulli received a letter from Belford University, one of many online schools that purport to be accredited. It read: 'You are now a doctor. Diplomas and paperwork will be mailed to you after you pay $1,400 for the degree.'

"Cerulli said, 'Foolishly, I did that. I was told I could see patients and prescribe medicine. What was I thinking?'"

She might have been thinking about the overall prevalence of online colleges -- according to the article, a survey from the Sloan Consortium and Babson Survey Research Group recently displayed that "3.9 million students were enrolled in at least one online course in 2007, a 12 percent increase over the previous year." With that amount of students enrolling in -- or interested in -- the prospect of distance learning, there is no shortage of pickings for scam artists to prey on those uneducated in their methods.

So, how can you tell? For one thing, if the process looks to easy, it probably is. College is hard work, and there is no shortcut. "I knew something was wrong because the test was too simple," said Debra Harris to ABC News, upon completing an online test for a life experience-based high school diploma. "It was multiple choice, and if you didn't get it right, you could go back and do it again. Everybody passes." Another red flag: a P.O. Box for mailing, with a physical address in a different country or that can't be found at all. One college under investigation by the Better Business Bureau in the article had a mailing address in Arizona and a home office in Sonora, Mexico.

Most importantly: accreditation is key. Only accredited online schools will be recognized and accepted by reputable institutions, and only the U.S. Department of Education has the power to determine which accrediting organizations are valid in the United States. Without accreditation -- and valid accreditation at that, so do your research if the website says otherwise -- even colleges requiring minimal actual work may be a waste.

The Better Business Bureau may do its best to shut them down, but online school scammers will be around for as long as online schools continue to exist. That said, the best offense is a good defense. So do your research and know your red flags, and you can avoid becoming a statistic.

Search Schools

      
Matching School Ads
  • Argosy University

    Argosy University offers doctoral, master's, and bachelor's degree programs to students through its eight colleges.

    Programs

    • Psychology (BA) (Online)
    • Business Administration - Accounting (BS) (Online)
    • Business Administration - Healthcare Management (BS) (Online)
    • More...
    Location:
    Phoenix: 2233 West Dunlap Ave., Phoenix AZ 85021
    Argosy University Request Info »
  • Full Sail University - Online

    Push Your Creativity To The Next Level

    Programs

    • Graphic Design, Bachelor of Science (Online)
    • Internet Marketing, Master of Science (Online)
    • Music Production, Bachelors of Science (Online)
    • More...

    Location: Online

    Full Sail University - Online Request Info »
  • Colorado Technical University Online

    A degree from CTU connects you to what matters most: powerful professional network, real-world professional faculty and innovative technology. Once you earn your degree you hit the ground running.

    Programs

    • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN completion)
    • Master of Science in Management - Healthcare Management
    • Master of Science in Information Technology - Network Management
    • More...
    Location:
    Colorado Springs: 4435 North Chestnut Street, Colorado Springs CO 80907
    Colorado Technical University Online Request Info »
  • Regent University

    Regent University prepares students with the knowledge to excel and the faith to live with purpose.

    Programs

    • Master of Arts in Law - Non-Profit Management
    • Bachelor of Arts in English - Self-Designed
    • Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies
    • More...

    Location: Online

    Regent University Request Info »
  • University of Maryland at College Park

    Study online with University of Maryland at College Park.

    Programs

    • MBA - Information Systems & Business Analytics
    • MBA - General
    • MBA - Marketing
    • More...
    Location:
    College Park: , College Park MD 20742
    University of Maryland at College Park Request Info »
  • Keiser University

    Since 1977, Keiser University has provided quality student-centered, career-focused education.

    Programs

    • Master of Business Administration, MBA - Information Security Management
    • Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
    • Master of Business Administration, MBA - International Business
    • More...

    Location: Online

    Keiser University Request Info »
  • Intercoast Colleges

    Get your career started with Intercoast Colleges.

    Programs

    • Alcohol & Drug Counseling Studies
    • Online Alcohol & Drug Counseling Studies

    Location: Online

    Intercoast Colleges Request Info »
  • Rutgers University

    Founded in 1766, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a leading national public research university and the state’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher learning.

    Programs

    • Online Master of Social Work
    • Online Master of Business Administration
    • Online Master of Information
    • More...
    Location:
    New Brunswick: 57 U.S. 1,, New Brunswick NJ 08901
    Rutgers University Request Info »
  • John F. Kennedy University

    As one of the first universities dedicated to lifelong learning, John F. Kennedy University offers you a high quality, affordable education that will prepare you to advance your career and community.

    Programs

    • Master of Arts in Sport Psychology
    • Master of Arts in Sport Psychology – Clinical PsyD Dual Degree
    • Doctor of Psychology - PsyD
    • More...

    Location: Online

    John F. Kennedy University Request Info »
  • West Coast University

    Advance your career. 100% Focused on Health Sciences.

    Programs

    • RN to MSN (Online)
    • MSN - Informatics (Online)
    • MSN – Advanced Generalist (Online)
    • More...

    Location: Online

    West Coast University Request Info »
  • Matching School Ads

    Quick School Search

    College & Career Search Tools

    • Careers: Unsure about your career path? Study profiles of hundreds of professions.

    • Interviews: Professors and deans sit down with our team to give you unique insights on college life.

    • Military Education: Find only Military friendly online schools and campuses.

    • Student Reviews: Know before you go. Read student reviews on over 2000 accredited colleges. Write your own experience.