DOJ Charge Scheme to Sell Thousands of Fake Nursing Degrees

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March 14, 2023

The Department of Justice (DOJ) recently revealed that 25 people carried out a scheme that could allow people to obtain nursing degrees and transcripts illegally. In this announcement, the DOJ has charged them for producing fraudulent degrees. 

The agency also revealed that the plan had individuals pay up to $15,000 to take an exam. The scheme also included the possibility of getting hired as a nurse without having to do the necessary coursework or clinical experience. Though some illegal nurses have continued working in the healthcare industry, law enforcement has not found any indication that they have hurt any patient.

The scheme illegally funneled over 7,600 fraudulent nursing degree diplomas from three Florida schools, which have shut down since the discovery. According to the DOJ, several individuals owned or managed the nursing schools. In these schools, they created and distributed phony diplomas and transcripts to accomplices outside of Florida.

These documents would enable the individuals to take the national nursing exam despite not completing the coursework and clinicals that nurses must take as a part of training. Additionally, the DOJ realized thousands of aspiring nurses purchased these fraudulent documents. The nurses have acquired licenses and jobs with various healthcare providers throughout the United States with these documents. Through this illegal program, many have become licensed practical, vocational, and registered nurses.

An acting special agent with the FBI expressed distress with the situation. The agent worries about the consequences of having these 7,600 people using their fraudulent nursing credentials in critical healthcare positions. However, in the release, the acting Special Agent in Charge voiced relief and gratitude to the investigators on the case. “Were it not for the diligence and hard work of the investigators on this case, the extent of this fraud may not have been discovered.”

During the investigation, the DOJ agents reviewed over 10,000 records. Their suspicions grew when state audits discovered the passing rates were low for the three schools. Thankfully, the DOJ has not found any indications of the nurses with false diplomas harmfully impacting any patients. However, it has shared information about the individuals involved with state licensing boards. The DOJ leaves it to the board to decide what actions to take against these individuals.

Ensuring that employees have the credentials they claim to have is essential, especially in industries with vulnerable populations. The best way to do this is to partner with a reputable background check company. The right provider will offer accurate and thorough background checks on potential employees. They will also ensure compliance with all relevant state and federal laws, delivering reports employers can trust.

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