Bootleg Degrees: A Billion Dollar Industry

Bootleg Degrees: A Billion Dollar Industry

There is a long list of industries on the Black Market that includes a plethora of lucrative industries operating in the underworld. At the top of the list are hustles such as prostitution and drugs, but counterfeit goods are a current theme on the list. Medications and even foods and batteries are counterfeited and make billions for criminals. One of the more surprising industries in the bootleg universe are fake diplomas/degrees. The bootleg degree industry is said to be worth $1 billion worldwide, evidence that there are plenty of people who need the phony credentials.

With tuition prices in the tens of thousands and scores of educated people in serious debt, a degree is probably the most expensive piece of paper one can buy. Degrees also are a requirement for many jobs–as they are proof of hard work and scholarship–and serve as a status symbol to many. In reality, they’re just a “flimsy sliver of dead tree embossed with a stamp and signed by the lords of higher education.” Seeing how simple it is to make something so vital to success in life, hustlers most definitely found ways to reproduce degrees and diplomas and make them available. The Council for Higher Education, the body that regulates the legitimacy of degrees, estimates that 100,000 bootleg degrees and diplomas are sold each year. The fake degrees and diplomas are manufactured and sold by “mills. There are legal distinctions that separate “degree mills” and “diploma mills.” A degree mill distributes “real” degrees from a fake college. Diploma mills provide a fake degree from a real college.

Degree mills are largely illegal. The fake college named on the degree is “accredited” by an accreditation companythat is just as shady. More work and money goes into these than with the diplomas, so they cost buyers more at about $1,000 a pop. In 2014, the FBI busted a degree mill in Connecticut. Mill proprietor James Enowitch, 48, of the mill–which sold $5 million in fake degrees–set up institutions with names such as “Redding University,” “Glendale University,” “Suffield University,” “Greenwood University” and “Bryson University.” All of these colleges were accredited by a make believe company. Enowitch faces 20 years in prison on charges of “mail fraud and aiding and abetting mail fraud.”

Change Magazine elaborates on what makes a degree real:

Under U.S. law, there are only three sources for the authority to issue college degrees: Congress, a sovereign Indian tribe, or a state government. Accreditation is voluntary, while approval from one of these sources is mandatory. is the premier diploma mill. On the site (and the dozens of other sites its runs), purchasers can buy “top of the line” diplomas for high school, college, graduate school, international certifications and more. They offer the diplomas on “‘the same paper used by actual schools,’ include official watermarks and security fibers, and even use ‘real raised seals’ in the fashion of whichever school you desire.” They just don’t provide actual degrees. These type of mills are 100% legal. It’s all in the wording, kind of the way tobacco shops can sell marijuana paraphernalia which customers can get arrested with. claims that it is not a diploma mill and boasts:

“There is nothing illegal about using a fake diploma for novelty purposes. 

We NEVER use copy written seals or emblems owned by actual schools — even though our design may look similar. We NEVER forge the original administrator name — we use a selection of in-house names that look like real signatures. We NEVER make fake diplomas representing nursing, medical, mental-health, dental, legal, law enforcement, aviation, military or government certification or public safety professions. We NEVER make fake diplomas that might be used to circumvent the security of our country.”

“We make fake diplomas that look real, offer many college diplomas for sale, have 1000’s of fake online degrees as well as fake online schools and fake transcripts online. All of our novelty degrees, college diplomas and transcripts, international college diplomas, fake certificates and fake transcripts can be ordered right on our fresh and secure website. For the most authentic and reliable college diplomas online, you have come to the right place. We have over 400,000 real diploma designs that we have collected over the past 9 years so you are guaranteed to get exactly what you want!”

However, there is nothing on the diplomas that say they are fake, unlike fake cash that has some type of marking on it. The site advertises everything available as “novelty,” though. They even sell “novelty” transcripts for folks who need them.

While a bootleg degree or diploma may seem enticing, the powers-that-be are getting hip, so they probably won’t work for whatever you need them for all the time. Below is a list of pricing for counterfeit degrees, diplomas and other services:

  • Authorship for Research Paper in China: $1,500 to $24,850
  • Essay Writing Service: $13 to $40 per page to students
  • Fake Associate Degree: $475 online
  • Fake Bachelor and Masters Degrees in Mexico: $1,555 Online
  • Fake Bachelor’s Degree Online: $34,000
  • Fake College Transcripts – Massage School: $10,000 to $15,000
  • Fake Degree in Iraq: $1,500 to $7,000
  • Fake Diploma in Australia: $249 Online
  • Fake Diploma in China: $20 to $44
  • Fake Diploma: Indonesia$648
  • Fake Diploma: Philippines$10 to $60 in 2 hours
  • Fake Doctoral Degree: $550 online
  • Fake Harvard Degree in Russia: $40,000
  • Fake High School Diploma in Indonesia: $432
  • Fake Master’s Degree: $525 online
  • Fake Masters Degree in Saudi Arabia: $5,000
  • Fake MBA Degree in UAE: $5,445
  • Fake MBA Degree: $500 online
  • Fake Pilot License in Philippines: $30,000 to $50,000
  • Fake Teaching Diploma in Vietnam: $50 to $600
  • Fake University Degree in India: $80 to $1.035
  • Fake Yale Degree in Vietnam: $1,200 to $1,500

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