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Thousands of College Degrees Worthless In Massive Fraud

Authorities say James Enowitch pocketed more than $700,000 off the international scheme.

File Photo
File Photo
by Gary Jeanfaivre

There are apparently $5 million worth of college degrees out there that have absolutely no value.

That's because they're fake. 

According to federal authorities, they were the work of a 48-year-old Connecticut man who made more than $700,000 off the international scheme.

The man, James Enowitch, of Cromwell, pleaded guilty May 8 to mail fraud and aiding and abetting mail fraud, in connection with the operation of a number of fraudulent diploma mills, according to United States Attorney Zane David Memeger.  

Here's how the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Eastern Pennsylvania describes the scheme:

As early as 2003, Enowitch began operating a diploma mill, through which he advertised and sold diplomas for a fee, requiring no course work for those “diplomas.” 

Enowitch and his alleged co-schemer ultimately operated at least seven different websites, through which they sold fraudulent degrees in the name of Redding University, Suffield University, Glendale University, Greenwood University, and Bryson University. Those purported universities were actually diploma mills in that they had no faculty, offered no academic curricula or services, required no course or class work, and were not recognized by the United States Department of Education.  

Part of the scheme to which Enowitch pleaded guilty was a fraudulent accrediting body, called the “National Distance Learning Accreditation Council” (“NDLAC”), used to claim, falsely, that the diploma mills were “nationally accredited.”  

Enowitch admitted that he and others created phony transcripts stating that the purchaser had taken courses that the purchaser had never taken; allowed purchasers to create their own transcripts and backdate degrees; and provided fraudulent verification services to back up the fake degrees, in case an employer or other party sought verification. 

The degree packages ranged in price from $475 to $550 for associates, bachelors, masters, and doctoral-level degrees, with a “multi-degree discount” for buying more than one. For an additional fee, purchasers could also allegedly select grades for the phony courses included in their transcripts.          

Between 2003 and 2012, Enowitch allegedly sold $5 million worth of fake degrees throughout the world. 

He now faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison, three years of supervised release, a $250,000 fine, a $100 special assessment, and an order of forfeiture.
Gabe Gonsalves May 09, 2014 at 02:29 PM
I wonder if any of these people who bought fake degrees then used them in securing employment thus preventing some one with a real degree from getting employment.
Donald Lambert May 10, 2014 at 08:18 AM
Many Jobs for Engineers like mechanical, electrical, civil, and others require real degrees from real colleges. Students in these fields learn a great deal of real information, they typically have twice as many hours of home work for all four or five years compared to business courses. In fact there are so many hard courses almost no engineering students complete the course work in four years. University officials know his but politically they have to "pretend" engineering is a four year degree like most of the other fields of study.
Donald Lambert May 10, 2014 at 08:25 AM
If the job requires a BS degree and will require a security clearance to be applied for, that check will show up if a person was short one class and does not really have the degree, but lied on their application they will be fired. I saw this happen in the orientation class for a previous job.
Christopher Cheplic May 10, 2014 at 09:07 AM
What's the difference. Most college degrees that are legitimately earned are absolutely useless anyway. What's the harm in skipping the 4-5 years of incredible expenses and pointless work incurred in obtaining them when having them probably won't get you a decent job anyway?
Surf's Up May 10, 2014 at 03:38 PM
One can take basket weaving in college, but that does not mean a college degree is worthless. In life, it is all about making wise choices. If you party and waster your opportunity you get what you get.

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