Fake degrees on sale online

GEORGE TOWN - Police have arrested three people, including a 24-year-old woman said to be the brains behind two online degree mills which could have churned out thousands of fake Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) degrees.

George Town OCPD Asst Comm Gan Kong Meng said the other two nabbed were a 25-year-old woman and a 26-year-old man. They were picked up in Kampar, Perak, yesterday evening.

He said police have identified the websites with servers based in the United States that were run by the woman and her accomplices.

"There was also a blog created in 2007 but it has since been inactive," he said.

ACP Gan said the university had lodged a police report on the matter and the police were investigating the case as cheating under Section 420 of the Penal Code.

It is learnt that the matter came to USM's attention after several undergraduates received a message offering the fake degree on their Facebook accounts a few weeks back.

USM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Omar Osman said the university conducted an internal investigation before lodging reports with the police and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission on Friday.

"We have since improved the security measures of the university scrolls by having serial numbers and other authentication features.

"We will assist any company and help them ascertain the authenticity of their workers' degrees," he said yesterday.

Omar said the matter was viewed seriously as it could jeopardise the good reputation of USM and put its credibility at stake.

He declined to comment when asked if the mastermind was a former USM student.

A check by The Star showed that a "full degree package" was priced at RM5,888 and was non-negotiable, with the document delivered within a week.

A downpayment of RM400 (S$159.38) has to be deposited into a bank account online and a photocopy of the applicant's MyKad e-mailed before "work" on the degree could begin.

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