Fake degrees

Published 18/09/2008 – updated 25/05/2016

A new business is being born on the Internet: all it takes is a couple of clicks for websites in French-speaking countries (and elsewhere) to provide you with duly authenticated degrees. They guarantee the paper, the signature, etc., and all with a dose of cynicism: “Buy Diploma Online” or “Fake Degrees.”
In the US, there are so many sites that offer this service, that it is recommended that you consult the site “Fake Diploma Website Reviews,” which will help you choose the best service for your fake diploma needs.

Thankfully, the media got wind of this and started reporting on it, like in this Le Monde article on businesses confronted with the boom in fake diplomas, which appeared on 13/05/2013: Les entreprises confrontées au boom des faux diplômes.

These fake degrees on official watermarked paper (that is stolen or copied) could be bought in certain Asian markets before the advent of the Internet. But today everything is easier.


• Examples of sites where you can order diplomas online can be found here and here.

• If you prefer Chinese sources, you can do your shopping here:  http://www.france163.com/
They sell fake university degrees for EUR 1,000 each.

But there are also fake universities that award real degrees! We have had to refuse admission to students with such degrees. They told us how any one of us can, in exchange for around USD 500, obtain a set that includes degree plus transcripts. This is what Wikipedia has to say.

What can we do when we are presented with these fake diplomas? As they were foreign students, our response was limited to not accepting them into our programs. But some go a step further: They ask their consulate or embassy to certify the translation of their degree. And of course, the consulate or embassy is only certifying the translation, not the degree. But it is the translation that has been duly stamped by the ambassador that is submitted to the admissions office of the target academic institution.

It is our responsibility to award degrees that serve as a form of guarantee that our students have been trained in their field and have the skills necessary for their profession. Companies that hire holders of fake degrees, however, don’t always seem motivated to verify those degrees.

The forgery of an official, government document

All countries have enacted strict laws against forgery, but no one seems to be aware of them. For example:

In France:

The key element of this offense, punishable under Article 441-2, is that the document have been delivered by a public body:

Forgery committed in a document delivered by a public body for the purpose of establishing a right, an identity or a  capacity, or to grant an authorisation is punished by five years’ imprisonment and a fine of €75,000.
The use of a forgery specified in the previous paragraph is subject to the same penalties.
The penalty is increased to seven years’ imprisonment and to a fine of €100,000 where the forgery or the use of the  forgery is committed:
1° by a person holding public authority or discharging a public service mission acting in the exercise of his office;
2° habitually;
3° or with the intent to facilitate the commission of a felony or to gain impunity for the perpetrator.

Under Article 441-3, the dishonest possession of any of the forged documents defined by article 441-2 is punished by two years’ imprisonment and a fine of €30,000, and the penalty is increased to five years’ imprisonment and to a fine of €75,000 where more than one forged documents are unlawfully possessed.

In Switzerland:

Administrative Criminal Code
Article 15
1. Any person who, with a view to obtaining for himself or another an advantage that is unlawful under federal administrative law or in order to cause financial loss to or harm other rights of the public authorities, produces a false document, falsifies a genuine document, uses the genuine signature or mark of another to produce a false document, or who, in order to deceive another, makes use of such a document, or any person who by fraudulent means causes the administration or another authority or a public official to falsely certify as true something having an impact on the execution of federal administrative law or who makes use of a document so obtained in order to deceive the administration or another authority is liable to imprisonment or a fine not exceeding CHF 30,000.