Friday 10 July 2009

The Voice - Dear Consumer's Voice

This week it’s all about education, education, education. The trouble is that some of these educational offers might not be all they seem to be...

Dear Consumer’s Voice #1

I saw an advertisement on the Internet from the University of SouthCentral Los Angeles offering qualifications and scholarships. I went to their web site and filled in the form applying for a scholarship and they emailed me saying that they were offering me a scholarship. They say that for a PhD I only have to pay $850 instead of the usual $10,800. Now I’m suspicious. Do you think they are serious?

Yes, I think they’re serious. They are serious about taking your money and offering you a worthless qualification. No real university in the world works this way.

I did a little research into this supposed university and found a few things you might think are strange if it really is an authentic university. For instance wouldn’t you think a real university would say where it actually is? Wouldn’t it give a physical address? Even those universities that cater for distance learning students at least have an office somewhere. Not these people.

Then, when I dug a little deeper I found that someone else had done some investigation already and found that their web site is partially registered to an address in London, UK, which is also strange for a university that’s supposed to be in Los Angeles, don’t you think?

We did a small test. While we were visiting the USLA web site we also applied for a scholarship using three different email addresses and guess what happened? Every one of them was also awarded a scholarship without any checks, all for the same $850, without ever having to prove previous qualifications or even our identity.

As far as I can see this is NOT an accredited establishment and any qualifications they award will be completely worthless.

I’m sorry, but this is a scam. Don’t waste your money.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #2

I saw an advertisement in the Daily News from the Northern Ireland Institute of Business & Technology. It offered a Bachelor of Business Administration degree “leading to MBA / PhD / DBA Degrees” by distance learning. However the email address they gave was in Malaysia. How can a school in Northern Ireland be in Malaysia?

Good question. Of course it’s possible for a college to have the name of one place but operate from another. However it is a little strange in this case. It’s also strange that they have a web site that appears to be based in the UK ( but they give a contact email address in Malaysia. When I dug further on the internet I discovered that the web site is in fact registered to an address in Malaysia as a “Non-UK Corporation”. What are they trying to hide?

Then there’s more. Using an assumed name and free email address I contacted this establishment and asked if I could study for a PhD. I told them I already had a Masters Degree from Calamus University, a famous fake university and wanted to progress further. Within hours I had a response inviting me to fill some forms and send over some cash. Is that the mark of a real university?

The final thing I established was the geographical spread of these people who claim to be respectable. Their web site is British, their recruitment is done from Malaysia, you send the money to Malaysia but their “Business Campus” is in Ireland. Sounds confused to me.

Please don’t deal with these people, they are way too suspicious.

Dear Consumer’s Voice #3

An acquaintance suggested I should buy some educational materials from her. She also said I could make money by selling these materials to other people. When I pressed her she told me that they were from Success University. I remember you have written about Success University before. Do you think I should?

No, most certainly not. Success University is a pyramid scheme. Don’t just take my word for it, trust the Bank of Namibia who have declared Success University as an illegal pyramid scheme in Namibia. It’s time our enforcement agencies did the same here in Botswana.

So why is this an educational question? It’s because these people call themselves a university when clearly they are NOT a university. They don’t award qualifications, they don’t employee lecturers and they don’t have premises. They are lying about being a university and using the term to gain some credibility with their victims.

What in fact you get from this organisation is a variety of mass-produced motivational material, from a variety of evangelical speakers. What they want you to do of course is become a reseller yourself and then to recruit other people beneath you. Can you picture the pyramid shape yet?

Steer clear of these people. Sooner or later our authorities are going to act to put these crooks out of business.

Educational warning

Consumers of educational services have to be VERY careful these days. Employers have to be even more cautious. Many, many educational establishments are out there awarding worthless, non-accredited qualifications. Although many employers fail to check the validity of the qualifications of their recruits many do and sooner or later, even if you get a job using a fake qualification, you’ll get found out.

In our work with large organisations we’ve identified a several employee with fake degrees and on every occasion they’ve been disciplined or fired as a result. Don’t take the risk, be careful before you start studying.

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