When Dogs Can Get “Dog-Torates”

How to Save Your Organisation Its Reputation and Spot Frauds

Probably the most valuable element in a sustainable business is its reputation. Recently, The major English-language broadsheet newspaper here, The Straits Times, exposed 218 Singapore individuals who had either bought their academic degrees from degree mills, or had “earned” them from  substandard institutions with some fig-leaf academic “study” to distinguish their ill-gotten gains from legitimate degrees. The senior reporter, as an exercise, managed to get, for a few hundred dollars, a PhD for her pet beagle from such an institution of ‘ higher learning’.

The 218 people included a leading financial and options trading ‘expert’ and a bunch of HR “consultants” .

Worse, some institutions are destroying their hard earned reputations by hiring or associating themselves with such individuals – I have a long list of these organisations which include the PSB and other long-standing organisations in Singapore. Is this a problem in your country too?

How do you protect your organisation from such frauds and save your organisation untold loss in reputation value?

If you leave aside those unscrupulous job applicants, and famous local business persons who want to add a PhD to their credentials without working for one, here’s how you red-flag more cunning and unethical independent contractors wanting to sell you or your firm professional services.

1) Google their degree-awarding institutions, and include terms like ” degree mill” in the search terms. See what is being said on the Net, as well as official lists of accredited universities. Beware the alliances of degree mill owners who have created their own ” accrediting” authorities to further defraud people, and mislead inquiries seeking to flush them out

2) Profile applicants – the typical degree mill holder is often someone in their late-30s to early 50s, and in transition. Typically, they have years of legitimate professional experience somewhere, and have been retrenched, or have decided to go solo as a ” consultant” and thus need a rapid-fire edge in this competitive arena by acquiring a bogus/unearned PhD.

These are the classic signs which suggest they are frauds:

A) may have a list of legitimate degree, but the PhD is unattributed ,or may just have after it , in brackets, (USA) or (UK). There is also sometimes a gap between his ( I use this term to refer to both men and women)  bachelors degree and PhD ( where’s the Masters degree? )

B) Liberally uses the doctorate in collaterals and website, and almost always has ” Dr” in front of his name, and an added “PhD”. Call it degree mill swagger. Almost no legitimate PhD holder I know uses both “Dr” and “PhD”  on his calling card

C) PhD degree are almost always in the softer fields like business, communication or the arts. You can get caught out too easily with a  fake degree in the harder sciences

D) His resume is self-aggrandizing, with a significant amount of puffery  and unsubstantiated claims; often with self-proclaimed “guru” status.

E) His hectic and full professional profile casts doubts if he had the time to squeeze in a doctoral degree. I know of one such consultant that has SIX PhDs. Go figure…

F) When challenged quickly claims it is merely an honorary degree – though all his collaterals, website et al imply  some added professional expertise and excellence because of his ‘doctorate’

Caveat emptor – let the buyer beware

Forward this email to someone you know who could save their organisation untold embarassment and loss through fraudulent degrees.