Graduation selfies and fraud

By: Tonya Mead,PhD, MBA, CFE, CHFI, PI, MBA, M.Ed

Charles Smith wrote a piece ruminating about rampant fraud and how it has, from his viewpoint, become pervasive in society. As a result, his piece was widely circulated among “Doomsday theorists.” Smith is no amateur.  According to his blog, CNBC ranked his website “#7 Top Alternative Financial Site.” (bio, first line).

Profound Global Chasms

If one were to examine the article and charts closely one would see how he has obliquely presented his theories on the chasm existing between the “US fly over” states and the US border metropoleis (its the correct spelling); the elitists (as he calls them) and the under-educated American; laisse faire and government interventionists; globalists and nationalists and the Bexits and the non-exits. (para 14, specifically the S Curve of Centralization). I won’t weigh in on his arguments pertaining to morality, corruption and accountability.

Fraud Threats Related to Posting Graduation Selfies

However,I would like to suggest that the problem regarding the fraudulent capture and misuse of selfies innocently posted to the internet by this year’s graduates could be proof that he is on to something.

Smith states:

A funny thing happens when a nation allows itself to be ruled by Imperial kleptocrats: (his emphasis not mine) such rule is intrinsically destabilizing, as there is no longer any moral or political center to bind the nation together. The public sees the value system at the top is maximize my personal profit by whatever means are available, i.e. complicity, corruption, monopoly and rentier rackets, and they follow suit by pursuing whatever petty frauds and rackets are within reach: tax avoidance, cheating on entrance exams, gaming the disability system, lying on mortgage and job applications, and so on.” (para 9 and 10).

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Increased Enforcement Actions?

Or, better yet, if we take a more optimistic view of the world, we positively believe that the increases in the perceived threat could have arisen due to efforts by law enforcement and education agencies to intensify their policies to beat back student admissions fraud. For instance, Hedd from UKs Official Service for Verifying Degrees speculated that there is “a growing trend for documenting degree-success.”(para 3).

Why is the threat real?

Irrespective of the reason for the increased threat for fraud, criminal use of your child’s, former student or your own graduate certificates, diplomas and degrees can be prevented. Hedd says that the online posts give criminals realtime access to the “latest logos, crests, signatories, stamps, holograms and wording,” that ultimately “fuel[s] the booming business of selling fake certificates.” (para 3).

Fraud Prevention

What is the easiest way to prevent the manipulation of images such as school diplomas, degrees and vocational certificates? Please tell your family, friends, students and kids not to post them online. Hedd makes the following analogy, “You wouldn’t share a picture of your passport or your driving license. Degree certificates are no different.” (para 9).

About Tonya Mead

Tonya J. Mead, PhD, MBA, M.Ed, CHFI,  CFE,  PI,  is the founder of Shared Knowledge LLC a private security and detective agency. Dr. Mead, formerly a certified K-12 Administrator and School Psychologist, is author of Fraud in Education: Beyond the Wrong Answer. If you like her work, please support her at Patreon.

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