"Engineering for Rs 75,000, Law Certificate for Rs 2 Lakh from a renowned university". This is what a news channel published after their sting operation back in 2019.
Another similar fraud became viral in February 2021–Manav Bharti University (MBU) reportedly sold 36,000 fake degrees over 11 years for prices ranging from 100,000 to 300,000 rupees.
Gravity of the situation
A simple google search leads to hundreds of such headlines, several institutions advertising their expertise in making fake credentials and multiple warnings on how to spot a fake XYZ credential. To top it off, we even have cases wherein not just a single document, but even the whole existence of a bank is artificial and fake. One such case came to light in 2020 where three people had created a fake SBI branch in Tamil Nadu.
There are multiple channels through which frauds can occur:
Insider Frauds/Systemic Frauds: These are frauds which occur through channels wherein a person from the issuing institute is involved in issuing fake credentials. The insider charges a fee in exchange for a fake credential. Such cases are harder to detect as well since the insider ensures that the degree is authentic and any outsider would find it hard to distinguish it from the original.
Organizational level: Organized frauds are the most common type of channels through which fake credentials are issued. In this type of fraud, a complete organization is involved solely to issue fake credentials. These organizations receive a hefty sum in order to issue degrees posing to be an authentic institution or sometimes involved in such a manner that the original institution is unaware of the same.
Individual level: These are frauds that occur on a very large scale. Individuals use editing software such as photoshop in order to edit original documents. With an increasing number of tutorials available on free web, even a basic google search would equip someone with all the skills required to create fake documents.
We could go on for hours and days discussing the never-ending list of fake credential frauds. And as one would've guessed correctly, these frauds are not limited to the educational sector; these are omnipresent in all sectors and domains. Be it Aadhar card, voter card, driving license or mark sheet, malicious agents have them all covered.
There is no denying; we are indeed a country with a large population. With such a large population, processing and tracking every credential issued while checking every document presented is a huge task. Malicious agents then exploit such limitations to earn money by selling fake documents, an industry worth millions.
Why should I care?
As an individual
Let's be real, we assume most of these cases do not affect us directly, but indirectly they do. Would you want to go to a doctor with a fake degree? Or would you spend thousands to get admitted to an educational institute with fake certifications? Would you trust a car with a fake driving license on the road?
In a recent event, UGC has declared 24 universities as fake. This only represents the reported number of cases. The actual number may be much higher. Clearly, you don't want to end up with fake credentials or even associated with a fake organization.
Would you want to hire people without genuine and verifiable backgrounds? Would you want to do business with another organization that doesn't exist in the real world or has fake certifications?
A report by HireRight found more than 62% discrepancies in educational credentials.
While methods to verify credentials do exist, they are not very convenient. One has to get in touch with the issuer, possibly pay them a fee and wait for them to verify the degree in their place. Not only is this process expensive but also requires time, something you would want to save!
Moreover, would you want people to issue fake credentials in your organization's name? Clearly, to uphold the brand value of your organization, such events and activities are unacceptable.
As an organization:
As an organization, you put in a lot of resources to prepare your students for the future. It is these students that create a brand name for your institution. A person with a fake credential under your institution's name could cause a lot of damage not only to the employer but also to your brand.
While one might have their own reasons to opt for fake credentials, it is not an optimal choice for the progress and development of society. Genuine credentials are not an option anymore; it is necessary, rather a compulsion.