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
  • Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design

    RMCAD - Where Your Creativity Comes to Life

     

    Programs

    • Graphic Design Online
    • Illustration Online
    • Game Art Online
    • More...

    Location: Online

    Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design Request Info »
  • University of the Southwest

    Pursue your MBA or MSEd online.

    Programs

    • MBA Sports Management and Recreation
    • MBA Strategic Management
    • MBA Accounting
    • More...
    Location:
    Hobbs: 6610 N Lovington Hwy, , Hobbs NM 88242
    University of the Southwest 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 »
  • Tulane University - School of Social Work

    There is no more exciting time to be part of the renowned Tulane School of Social Work or of the intriguing city of New Orleans than at this moment. 

    Programs

    • Masters in Social Work

    Location: Online

    Tulane University - School of Social Work Request Info »
  • Washington State University

    Get your career started with training from Washington State University.

    Programs

    • Executive MBA
    • MBA
    Location:
    Pullman: , Pullman WA
    Washington State University Request Info »
  • University of Southern California - DSW

    The University of Southern California Doctor of Social Work (DSW) online program is designed for experienced practitioners to harness innovative solutions to solve real-world problems.

    Unlike a PhD in social work, which prepares scholars for careers in research and the professoriate, the DSW@USC is an online advanced practice degree program for working professionals who want to have a greater impact in their practice.

    Programs

    • Doctor of Social Work (DSW)
    Location:
    Los Angeles: 669 W 34th St, Los Angeles CA 90089
    University of Southern California - DSW Request Info »
  • George Mason University

    Located in Fairfax, Virginia, George Mason University is the largest public research university in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

    Programs

    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Applied Behavior Analysis
    • Master of Business Administration: Business Analytics Specialization
    • Master of Education in Special Education, specializing in Autism Spectrum Disorder
    • More...

    Location: Online

    George Mason  University Request Info »
  • Penn Foster

    Advance your career with our affordable, self-paced, career-focused distance education programs.

    Programs

    • Home Health Aide
    • Security Guard
    • Veterinary Assistant
    • More...
    Location:
    Scranton: , Scranton PA 18515
    Penn Foster Request Info »
  • South University, Online Programs

    As a student at South University, Online Programs you will receive the same quality instruction, variety of learning options and level of service found at the campus locations.

    Programs

    • Nurse Educator (PGC)
    • Nursing (RN to BSN)
    • Specialization in Nursing Informatics (RN to MSN)
    • More...
    Location:
    Savannah: 709 Mall Boulevard, Savannah GA 31406
    South University, Online Programs Request Info »
  • Los Angeles Film School

    Get the career of your dreams with an education from the Los Angeles Film School.

    Programs

    • Bachelor of Science, Graphic Design (Online)
    • Associate of Science, Music Production (Online)
    • Bachelor of Science, Digital Filmmaking (Online)
    • More...

    Location: Online

    Los Angeles Film School 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.