Yale degrees for sale: Faux certificates cost $75

Apparently, Yale degrees can now be obtained at $75 a pop.

A Web-based company –Êhttp://fakedegrees.com — currently sells fake degrees from a large number of world universities, including Yale.

For a $75 membership fee, one gains access to an enormous range of custom-made diplomas, certificates and degrees, all of which can be previewed online. The “certificate creator” lets members pick the layout and template of the certificate, the type of paper, and certificate details including name, title, institution, date and even the wording. The certificates are then mailed to the member.

The site emphasizes many times that the certificates are solely for “novelty purposes,” and that the business will not take any responsibility for people using the certificates for fraud or other illegal purposes. But the company is also in the process of giving members the ability to design online their own letters of recommendation and transcripts from any college.

“The ‘novelty purposes’ line is a pretty thin cover,” said Terry Shepard, the vice president of public affairs at Rice University.

Dorothy Robinson, Yale’s general counsel, said she was unaware of this particular Web site.

“When we learn of Web sites misusing Yale’s name, we look into the situation and we take action if it is warranted,” Robinson said. “We have in the past contacted law enforcement agencies about this sort of thing and have successfully taken action to stop it.”

Rice, on the other hand, already took steps against fakedegrees.com.

“Rice’s general counsel sent a cease-and-desist letter to the site, and at last check Rice has been removed from the list,” Shepard said.

Some Yalies, who pay about $119,925 more for their Yale degrees than do users of the Web site, said they disapproved of the site.

“I think there’s a certain value that goes along with the name, and it should be protected,” Erin Birdsong ’05 said. “A lot of misunderstanding can arise.”

Potential misunderstanding was the reason that Yale University threatened to take legal action against another institution named Yale in 1999.

Located in Wales near the home of Elihu Yale, the college eventually changed its name to Yale College of Wrexham, Wales.

The operators of fakedegrees.com did not respond to repeated requests for comment. But though they say they take no responsibility for the misuse of the fake diplomas, Carlos Garcia ’85 of Rice said some employers might be fooled.

“I do think that many customers and clients could be fooled by fake degrees hanging in someone’s office,” said Garcia, the associate general counsel at Rice. “I think this is probably the most desirable misuse of fake degrees — to get the instant credibility that a Harvard, Yale or Rice degree brings.”

The Web site does not hesitate to sell fake degrees or diplomas, and fakedegrees.com says that it creates “very realistic online degrees, diplomas, and certificates.”

But the site takes a strong stand against the sale of fake identification cards or driver’s licenses.

“We do not produce any Fake Identification or Drivers Licenses,” the Web site said. “We do not advise on this topic either.”

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