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"All they need is a certificate which they can show their parents."

The peddler claimed that he made it a point to caution his customers against using their fake degrees to look for jobs, whether in Singapore or in China.

He said: "If they get caught, they will get into serious trouble. I tell them that if they use the fake degrees to apply for jobs, they will only be harming themselves."

This is because the fake degrees do not have the security features embedded in the authentic degrees.

He said the fake degrees are cheaply made and are printed on regular paper that costs about 70 cents a sheet.

Anyone who wants to use their foreign degrees in China must first have their documents verified by the authorities, the man said.

He said: "The degrees I sell are printed on normal paper and the quality is not that good. Many of my customers' parents are illiterate, so they are easily fooled when their children show them the degrees."

He claimed he's not the only one peddling such degrees in Singapore.

"It's a lucrative business. Sometimes, I don't have customers for months, but I know of somebody who has made enough from these counterfeit degrees to buy several properties in China."

He said he makes between $1,000 and $2,000 a month on average, from commissions on fake degree sales as well as student recruitment for private institutions in Singapore. As a student recruiter, he gets a commission for every student he gets to enrol in a private institution in Singapore.

"I'm not out to do anything illegal. I'm just trying to make a living," he added.

Security features embedded in degree scrolls

ONLINE counterfeiters have taken local universities by surprise.

Spokesmen for the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and Singapore Management University (SMU) said their universities were not aware that fake versions of their degrees are being peddled here until they were informed by The New Paper on Sunday.

One university is now working with the paper to take action against errant vendors.

All three university spokesmen said that their degrees have comprehensive security features which allow their authenticity to be verified easily.

The SMU spokesman said: "SMU is able to verify the authenticity of the official examination transcripts and the degree scroll through special security features embedded within the documents.

"These security measures safeguard the authenticity of the documents and allow us to perform such checks on the request of employers who approach us."

The NUS spokesman said the university has strict guidelines on the use of its logo.

She said: "Security features are embedded in each degree scroll for authentication purposes, if necessary.

"To date, we have not received any complaints of individuals using or distributing unofficial degree scrolls."

The NTU spokesman said that employers can approach the university to verify the credentials of potential job candidates if necessary.

He said: "The university does not condone such actions and will take appropriate action against parties that counterfeit and sell our degrees."

It was reported in May last year that in the first ranking of Asian universities done by Quacquarelli Symonds Ltd, NUS was ranked 10th, while NTU was placed 14th. SMU was not placed.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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