Fake degree business thrives in Vietnam despite exposures

TN News

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There have been several scandals about officials and others obtaining degrees from dubious universities and an equal number about people being arrested for printing fake degrees in Vietnam, but the practice thrives, nevertheless.

It costs around VND18 million (US$874) to get a doctor's or masters degree certificate in Vietnam, and some of those who sell them even offer to accept payment after these are notarized.

The people in Ho Chi Minh City who run the fake degree rings claim they can make them completely convincing with score files that look exactly like real ones.

One of the fake certificate makers, introducing himself as Nguyen Trung Kien, said that it only takes him four days to make one and the customers only need to pay VND2 million ($97) in advance.

Kien said he has made several certificates of universities in Hanoi and nearby Nam Dinh Province. He also makes bachelor degrees, high school graduation and foreign language certificates.

Kien said he can put "very good" results in the papers but he advised customers to leave it at "good" so that the fake certificates would not attract too much attention.

His delivery man drives a motorbike with fake number plate, just in case.

A bigger fake degree ring, which has members in many provinces around the city, offers to make doctoral degrees as well.

Nam, one of the leaders in the ring, said he can take the customers to have the papers notarized before taking the money, to ensure that they do look real.

Another fake degree maker, named Long, in Go Vap District, asked for a higher price, VND25 million a certificate. He said his business was "very reliable" and his cell phone number is advertised on many websites.

He uses a fake ID card named Nguyen Van Hiep to carry out the business.

Every month, each of the fake degree rings receive orders for 30 to 40 certificates, many of them from state officials or company employees in different provinces.

The degree makers said most of their customers are people who need to use them when applying for job, trying for a promotion or even getting a raise.

Some people were allowed to attend masters degree classes during their job, so they bought the fake degrees and used the "study time" for personal purposes, the makers said.

"Most of my customers buy bachelor and master degrees. The doctorate degree gets more attention from authorities. Still, there have been some officials who have bought my doctorate degrees and received promotions," Nam said.

A customer of Kien, only identified as L.T.N., said he needs a masters degree as he told his firm that he has been studying for three years.

"(With the degree,) I hope get a higher position," N. said.

Another customer named L.N.H.H. said her bank has allowed her to take two days off every week to study for a masters degree, which will get her a deputy director position, but she has been too busy to attend classes.

Busted

Several universities in Ho Chi Minh City said that a number of fake degree cases have been discovered after firms contacted the schools, asking for confirmation after suspecting that their employees had submitted fake degree certificates.

Training management officials at the HCMC University of Economics said that the school has helped discover seven such cases since early this year.

Some degrees had wrong signatures and stamps while those made recently used more innovative technologies, making it hard to spot them, and officials had to compare them with documents stored at school, they said.

The HCMC University of Industry since July 2010 has identified at least four fake degrees using its name.

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