Friday 28 November 2014

More fakes

I despise the fake qualification industry almost as much as I despise scammers.

In my view they’re just as bad as scammers, perhaps even more so because they’re not just morally bankrupt themselves, but they make their victims into moral bankrupts as well.

Scammers are thieves and their victims are just that: victims. Of course they’re often naïve and sometimes foolish but they’re victims nonetheless. With people selling fake qualifications it’s different. People who buy fake degrees are just as corrupt as the fraudsters they bought them from. The corruption is contagious.

Sometimes people ask where the harm is in people buying themselves fake qualifications. Who actually is harmed? The answer is simple. We all are. The person who didn’t get the job or the promotion because someone with a fake qualification got it instead suffers. The employer who hires or promotes someone because they think they’re genuinely qualified becomes poorer because of it, not only financially but functionally as well. They’ve employed someone who can’t do the job as well as a person who really had studied the relevant subject.

Finally you and I suffer when the companies we buy products and services from offer us the services of unqualified liars and cheats.

Ask yourself this. Is there really anyone who thinks they can get a qualification without doing any exams, coursework, dissertations or research? Without any actual work of any sort? If they do then clearly they are the sort of person who could ONLY get a fake degree.

These days the fake degree industry is branching out into new areas of crookedness. A few months ago a reader asked us if he could believe the email he received from the “Gulf Project Management Association”. It started like this:
“We are pleased to announce that based on a thorough review of your previous academic and professional record; the Board at Gulf Project Management Association (Gulf PMA) has directly approved you as a 'Project Management Expert (PME).”
It went on to explain that:
“the Association has allocated 10 Exclusive Member Seats for the Top 3% exceptional individuals who will be allowed to bypass the 'Interview Requirement' and directly qualify as a Member” and that “Since you have officially been conferred the Gulf PMA 'Member Status' & the 'PME' Title, the Membership Kit under your Name has already been issued. You are required to claim your kit for just $399”.

This is all bogus. This isn’t a real qualification or membership. In my online chat with these crooks they told me that this body has existed “since 1995” which is curious as their web site was only first registered two weeks before. They also told me that I didn’t actually have to DO anything to get this dubious honor. No exams, no coursework, no proof of anything that would justify giving me a title.

In fact this is no different to those fake degrees we’ve mentioned so many times.

Last week someone alerted me to another, almost identical offer. This time it was from the “American Bureau of Project Management Experts” (ABPMEXP) who suggest on their web site that membership of their body will “enhance your career prospects”. To join they say that “you must first meet specific education and experience requirements and agree to adhere to a code of professional conduct” and that the process “involves a rigorous, examination-based process that represents the highest caliber in professional standards”.

Rubbish. Simply not true.

I chatted online with one of their ”advisors” and I was told that given the length of my career I “already have enough expertise” to join and that he could “convert my expertise into credit hours” and “make you a member right now”. All I needed to do was I hand over my credit card number and allow them to take $399 for a year’s membership, $735 for lifetime membership. He also assured me that my membership certificates would be personally endorsed by John Kerry, the US Secretary of State.

The same clues were there. A professional membership of a body that requires no actual proof of competence, that claims to have existed for 19 years but whose web site was only created a few weeks ago and that doesn’t actually seem to exist? As for that business about John Kerry signing my membership certificate? Clearly they’re good at forging signatures.

Here’s a challenge for everyone. Every time you read someone’s CV and you see a university or professional membership you’ve never heard of ask us to check it for you. Don’t just Google the name because the first page will be full of planted hits to make the organization seem legitimate. Dig a little deeper and see if you can’t find the name on our blog or on the Wikipedia page that lists non-accredited universities. In fact you should go a little further. Politely ask your colleagues and your boss where they got their degree or professional membership, in particular if it’s something that sounds impressive. If it’s legitimate they’ll be proud to tell you. If they appear reluctant to tell you or if you’ve just never heard of the place then let us know and we’ll check it for you.

Who knows, you might be exposing a cheat and a liar and save your company the cost and embarrassment of later firing them when it’s finally discovered.

Wouldn’t you do this if you thought someone was stealing from the company bank account or payroll? There’s really no difference. They’re all crimes because every one of them is stealing money from their company, their colleagues and their customers. From all of us in fact. It’s your duty to expose criminals whenever you find them.

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