By Wang Chao
Fake diplomas purporting to be from Beijing universities are flooding the Internet, selling for between 7,000 and 8,000 yuan (S$1,446-S$1,652).
A search of "diploma purchases" on Baidu.com turns up 3,020,000 results, with some sellers even going to the trouble of building impressive websites to hawk their illicit products.
Most agents offer not only university degrees but language capability certificates and accreditation for computer proficiency.
Many of those buying the phony diplomas are job-seekers who believe the fake paperwork will give them an edge in the job market.
A worker surnamed Wang from Sibo Education, a Zhejiang-based company, told METRO they sell both undergraduate and graduate diplomas.
"But usually people prefer undergraduate," he said.
Wang claimed the company was able to get diplomas for almost all of the schools in Beijing, with the exception of a few of the elite institutions.
"It all depends on the buyers' needs; for example, if you need to be a graduate from Beijing Normal University, I can make you one," Wang said.
Diplomas from the University of Science and Technology Beijing are the most popular, Wang said.
According to Wang, a diploma for a public university costs 7,500 to 8,500 yuan while one for a private university will only cost around 4,000 yuan.
"Now, it is the hot season for diplomas," Wang said. "We are charging 500 yuan more for one diploma."
The worker also recommended that female frauds should buy a degree in financial management or business management while male cheats would be well served by a certificate in computer science.
Despite the fact that the agent was based in Zhejiang province, Wang promised that a network of contacts in Beijing would handle things.
"But I cannot tell you where they are," he said.
Another agent, based in Beijing, emphasized that his company cooperated with 20 to 30 universities in the capital and could guarantee the diplomas sold were "authentic".
"Some agents claim that they can add the buyers' names into the alumni database at universities by using hackers but that is impossible," said the manager surnamed Liu.
"Even if you could be added to the list through a hacker, it would not be valid."
Liu said their contacts had another approach.
"We have many contacts in Beijing schools and sometimes they reserve diploma quotas for us," Liu said. But he said he has to check with the university before he can promise any specific year of issue.
According to the Ministry of Education, there are 102 universities in Beijing, including 22 first-tier universities and 80 second and third-tier ones.
"Beijing is home to so many universities and colleges, making it the main target of fake diploma sellers," said a professor surnamed Han from Renmin University of China.
"Every school keeps a record of its graduates, so it is easy to find out if a diploma is fake," Han warned.
-China Daily/Asia News Network