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Thousands of pros on LinkedIn have fake degrees and aren’t even trying to hide it

It’s no secret that much of what is shared online serves to portray our lives as much more interesting than our boring lives actually are, but it turns out that quite a few people are purchasing entire educations to appear more qualified than they are. Vice recently revealed that the quest to boost one’s professional background extends further than just attaching the superfluous titles “Guru” or “Rockstar,” but worse, involves attaching fake degrees purchased from degree mills to LinkedIn profiles.

According to the article, thousands of professionals on LinkedIn have successfully avoided paying thousands of dollars in tuition and investing numerous years of studying, simply by ordering and purchasing their degree of choice, often for the low, low price of only a few hundred dollars. The types of fake educations vary and include high school diplomas, bachelor’s degrees, and Ph.D.s, all earned from nonexistent educational institutions and well-known degree mills. The so-called professionals range from a woman whose job experience includes a position in Ebay’s compliance department to a NASA contractor claiming two degrees from Alameda University, a diploma mill that no longer exists.

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Surprisingly, it isn’t illegal to buy a degree in the U.S., but there have been recent efforts to crack down on companies providing the phony credentials. In May, The New York Times exposed Axact, a Pakistani software company that provided everything from high school diplomas for a few hundred dollars to doctorates for as little as $4,000. Important-sounding schools in Axact’s network such as Nixon University, Columbiana, and Mount Lincoln, provided these degrees, but don’t actually exist.

While purchasing your credentials might seem a harmless way to get ahead, there are real-life concerns besides being publicly outed and embarrassed online. In his book, Degree Mills: The Billion-Dollar Industry That Has Sold Over a Million Fake Diplomas,” Allen Ezell says, “Fake medical degrees are an urgent problem. It is easy to buy a medical degree from a fake school, or a counterfeit diploma in the name of real school. Twenty-five years ago, a Congressional committee calculated that there were over 5,000 fake doctors in the U.S., and there are many more now. People have died because of these fakes.” Something you might want to consider before consulting that LinkedIn doctor for advice.