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Terrorism and Fake Degrees

"Particularly troubling is the possible use of diploma mill qualifications to circumvent migration controls, possibly by potential terrorists"Hague Conference 2005

"An official looking certificate may be issued to a copy of a diploma mill qualification, and then subsequently issued with an Apostille, without anyone having ever verified the signature on, let alone the contents of, the diploma."Hague Conference 2005

Fact - Government stamps on documents make them look genuine.

Fact - They are more likely to be accepted by other governments as genuine.

Fact - Terrorists and criminal know this, yet governments continue to 'legalize' fake documents and those issued by diploma mills without checking to see if the document is real or fake.

This is the risk

  1. Qualified engineer is recruited by Al Qaeda,
  2. He gets a new identity to travel in case he is on a watchlist,
  3. He gets a diploma mill/fake engineering qualification in his new name,
  4. He gets this attested and legalized because no one verifies with issuing authority
  5. He gets a job or does post graduate studies overseas as he has a very authentic looking degree that no one checks and that he is qualified for,
  6. He kills people.

Does this sound improbable? Unfortunately it has happened...

In 1999 Ata-Ur-Rahil, purchased an unaccredited degree. He then used this degree to help substantiate his passport application. These documents then assisted him during the planning and perpetration one of the largest terror attacks in India – eight bombs in trains in July 2006 that killed 200 people and left 700 wounded.

To those who supply fake degrees be aware;the individual who sold the unaccredited degree has been charged with assisting in this terror attack

Human Trafficking

"Particularly troubling is the possible use of diploma mill qualifications to circumvent migration controls, possibly by potential terrorists"Hague Conference 2005

Fact - Government stamps on documents make them look genuine.

Fact - They are more likely to be accepted by other governments as genuine.

Fact - Terrorists and criminal know this, yet governments continue to 'legalize' fake documents and those issued by diploma mills without checking to see if the document is real or fake.

This is the risk

  1. Crime syndicate offers girl overseas job as beautician, hairdresser,
  2. He gets a new identity to travel in case he is on a watchlist,
  3. They charge her family a large upfront fee for placing her in the job;they get her a fake diploma or buy her a diploma mill qualification and then get these notarized and attested to make them look 'real',
  4. No one checks if the qualification or the school is genuine,
  5. Girl goes overseas to a job that does not exist,her passport is seized,and she is beaten or tortured until she 'accepts' her forced prostitution to pay back her 'loan'.

Document Verification – an underutilized tool..

Simple document checks can identify both the perpetrators and victims of Human Trafficking. In one Middle Eastern country we identified over 2,000 people who were almost certainly the victims of forced labor and Human Trafficking through a verification of their driving license. These persons have been provided with high quality fraudulent licenses so they could gain employment in the construction industry.

Public Safety & Fake qualifications

"Duwayne Huss an employee of Nuclear Management Co., operator of two nuclear plants in Minnesota, [who] bought degrees in nuclear engineering and accounting..."

"Huss secured employment at the Kewaunee Power Station in eastern Wisconsin;a call to the nuclear plant confirms that Huss is currently employed in its control room, although the receptionist declined to say in what capacity."

Fact - Government stamps on documents make them look more genuine.
Fact - They are more likely to be accepted by other governments as genuine.
Fact - Economic migrants know this, yet governments continue to 'legalize' fake documents and those issued by diploma mills without checking to see if the document is real or fake.


This is the one of the many risks with unqualified professionals


  1. There is a huge shortage of qualified medical staff in many countries,
  2. Someone with medical knowledge but no qualification decides they can earn far more overseas,
  3. They get a fake degree or buy diploma mill qualifications,and then get these notarized and attested to make them look 'real',
  4. No one checks if the qualification or the school is genuine,
  5. Public lives are put at risk.

Government Inertia

People using fake degrees and diploma mills are a deadly serious threat;the attestation system operated by governments is unwittingly complicit in this and has been exploited for years by organized crime, fraudsters and others.

It allows human traffickers to enslave their victims into forced prostitution.

It creates a hole in border security when combined with other fake documents that terrorists will one day exploit.

It undermines the global education system.

Despite KNOWING these risks some member countries stated:

"A number of States recognize they would be obliged to issue an Apostille for certification of a certified copy of a diploma issued by a diploma mill"

Some quotes

"Diplomas are usually presented in foreign countries for one of three reasons: to attain either educational, work or migration opportunities."

"Particularly troubling is the possible use of diploma mill qualifications to circumvent migration controls, possibly by potential terrorists"

"An official looking certificate may be issued to a copy of a diploma mill qualification, and then subsequently issued with an Apostille, without anyone having ever verified the signature on, let alone the contents of, the diploma."

"Most importantly, the effect of an Apostille does not extend to the content of the public document to which it relates.The general public is not always aware of the limited effect of Apostilles and diploma mills in particular seek to exploit this ignorance."

"What makes this particularly worrisome is that a number of purported degree mills use the application of an Apostille as evidence of their legitimacy as an educational institution, and to gain credibility.In essence, the application of an Apostille to notarized copies of diploma mill diplomas is used as a selling point."

"An Apostille service is also provided, designed to legitimize, validate and essentially 'authenticate' the purchased documents."

"A number of States recognise they would be obliged to issue an Apostille for certification of a certified copy of a diploma issued by a diploma mill (these were Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, China (Hong Kong Special Administrative Region), Japan, Moldova, Monaco, New Zealand, Slovakia, Slovenia and Turkey)"

"…the Apostille does not "look through the certification" and does not relate to the diploma itself (see the discussion below at II.C).There is a clear risk that such practices may eventually undermine the effectiveness and therefore the successful operation of the Apostille Convention"

Corruption Risk

"Particularly troubling is the possible use of diploma mill qualifications to circumvent migration controls, possibly by potential terrorists""Hague Convention, 2009.”

"An official looking certificate may be issued to a copy of a diploma mill qualification, and then subsequently issued with an Apostille, without anyone having ever verified the signature on, let alone the contents of the diploma."Hague Convention, 2009.”