Seniors entering the job market this spring may be competing with other "graduates" who have never gone to college. Their alma matters are "diploma mills" which the FBI suspects have sold tens of thousands of phony degrees throughout the country.
The mills are licensed companies with names that sound like real colleges, and for a fee they will sell virtually any type of degree to job seekers wishing to bolster their credentials.
The companies charge anywhere from $200--for a simple bachelor's degree--up to $5000 for a Ph.D. according to recent newspaper reports. Most advertise in legitimate magazines, like Psychology Today and Popular Mechanics.
The FBI started its "DIPSCAM" investigation three years ago when it unearthed its first diploma mill, "South Eastern University" in Greenville, S.C., said Robert L. Pence, agent in charge of the FBI in North Carolina. Since then, the FBI has discovered 41 more diploma mills in 15 states. But so far it has only indicted two operators.