Hauteur Theory

Fraudsters have something in common – the brass balls that come from the conviction that other people are so stupid one will always be able to get away with the fraud. Whether you’re Madoff calmly contemplating the 65 billion dollars you’ve stolen, or whether (at the other end of the fraud spectrum) you’re Sharonda Avery, commandingly handing down a diagnosis of autism to every single child brought to your pretend doctor’s office, the thing you’ve got, the unique, echt trait, is an arrogant, once more unto the breach, have at it, caution to the wind, only go around once, ah fuck it gall. That, plus endless delight in considering the many splendor’d ways in which you’ve ruined the lives of hundreds of families.

Prosecutors said Avery’s ruse started to unravel when a school psychologist in Spotsylvania started to become suspicious because Avery kept diagnosing children as autistic.

Of course the fraudsters are absolutely correct in their determination of the stupidity of the world. Madoff’s scheme was obvious to anyone with an ounce of grey matter, and some of those people shouted the truth to the treetops for over a decade.


Stafford [Virginia] prosecutors said when state officials notified the Spotsylvania Sheriff’s Office [of Avery’s scheme], they did not take action.

Right – I meant to add give a shit nothingness to the stupidity. Rural Virginia and all. Who cares. Most everyone around here’s a fraud of one sort or other. Big deal.


UD thanks her sister.

From “Women That Soar!” to a Page 404.

It’s been an awfully sudden fall for senior Trump official Mina Chang, whose State Department page has just crashed and burned. (Background here.)

Those of us fortunate enough to have studied her original self-creation recall paragraph upon paragraph touting her Ivy League credentials, her fearless compassionate forays into the world’s worst places, and more valor medals than Field Marshal Zhukov.

So what if it was all staged?

Chang had portrayed [a] 2015 trip to Afghanistan as a humanitarian mission for her nonprofit, but a defense contractor footed the bill and no aid was delivered, according to documents from the company and a former employee.

After the Afghanistan trip, Chang posted photos of herself meeting a group of Afghan women in a room. In a video posted on her charity’s website, she refers to the photo and says the Afghan women are “in hiding” at a secret location.

“This is in Afghanistan, I am sitting with women in our program, they are living in hiding. I can only say they are right outside of the Kabul area,” Chang said in an interview posted on her nonprofit’s website.

But the women were not part of any program run by her charity, Linking the World. They were wives of local employees of the defense contractor that paid for her trip…

I’ll say this for her: The woman has balls unto the breach. Having been exposed as – in the words of Fielding Mellish’s jury – incredibly guilty, she lashes out, in a statement, at all of her enemies (she shares this enemies list, and of course the Fake It Til You Make It M.O., with her president). When you finish reading Hoda Muthana’s tell-all (see post below this one), you can turn to the book I’m sure Chang will write about the lurid upbringing that turned her into a liar.

Spanish Pandemic

A court in Madrid is investigating whether around 500 Italians received express law diplomas from the King Juan Carlos University, the spokesman said. The Italians were granted the degrees despite having little knowledge of Spanish, according to media reports.

In a scandal dubbed “Mastergate”, the university already faces claims of gifting degrees to [Spanish] politicians by allegedly awarding them good grades without them turning up for class.

The allegations forced the resignation of Cristina Cifuentes, former head of the Madrid region, in April and ex-health minister Carmen Monton earlier this month.

The new leader of the conservative Popular Party (PP), Pablo Casado, who has a Master’s degree from the university’s now-closed Institute of Public Law, is also under fire.

Rampant Titleitis (the uncontrollable compulsion to put Dr. in front of your name) keeps claiming ministers in the Spanish government, and might help take down the government itself. And the next government.

Here at University Diaries, we’ve learned, over the years, that most of the world’s countries feature a nice tight symmetry between universities run by larcenists and people from all over the world with money who desperately seek Doctor.

You can tell a Titleitis university by the Koenigsegg CCXR Trevita its director, paid a pittance by the government, tools around town in.

Since the ‘mastergate’ scandal broke, [King Juan Carlos University] has closed its Institute of Public Law and filed a complaint for alleged misuse of funds involving former director Enrique Alvarez Conde.

Spanish radio Cadena Ser has also revealed that Alvarez and his deputy in the institute allegedly received unexplained money transfers of close to €200,000 ($230,000) between 2012 and May this year.

We’re shocked – shocked! – to find degree-selling going on here.


The last president of King Juan Carlos University.

Yale, Boston College, Northwestern…

… these are the holdouts, the strenuously, stubbornly, principled schools that will NOT revoke Bill Cosby’s honorary degree. There may be other schools as well, but UD is only aware of these three.

Even Temple University, which has been Cosby’s whore for decades, just revoked his degree.

And you know what else? The United States of America will not revoke his degree. Or, uh, medal. President Obama long ago said no can do. And why?

There’s no “precedent.” We have no “mechanism.” In this oure antient lande, one may not change that which hath already beene done.


Awright awready! We’re looking into it! Sheesh!


That ol’ can-do, American, spirit.

Stealing Beauty…

… and stealing your degree.

A fake Master’s, plus shoplifted anti-aging cream, does in a high-ranking Spanish politician.

Background here.

The Island Of Lost Theses

UD has covered many stories in which a person has lost his or her thesis. As physical objects, these things seem hard to hold onto; and what makes it worse is that in almost all of these cases the degree-granting university itself can’t seem to get hold of the thing. Where do they go?

Madrid regional president Cristina Cifuentes lost hers “in one of several house moves. The university has so far not presented it.”

[T]he post-graduate degree in Regional Law included 1,500 hours of classes, study and presentation, with students required to attend at least 80 per cent of classes.
However, none of the students … said they had ever seen Ms Cifuentes in class, despite the fact that she was already a well-known politician.

It also transpired that she only registered for the MBA three months after it began and that the marks for two of the 12 modules in her file had been given two years after the course was completed.

… The case has also tainted the university, which [a newspaper] says colluded with the politician in trying to cover up the affair with forged papers.

UD has a couple of suggestions to make. The first is obvious: 100% online class! Duh! Second: In response to students saying they never saw her. Cifuentes can claim that precisely because she is so famous, she went in disguise. What’s a burqa for?

Look Back in Anger

[Erwin] Sniedzins, who said he was on the hunt for a master’s degree to “validate” his professional and life experience, thought [Kings Lake University] was real.

“It felt like they were more legit than the other ones. Their website’s pretty good. And when you phone, you get someone there,” Sniedzins said.

After his experience was “validated” by the university, Sniedzins said he paid the $8,100 fee, and received a master’s degree in education, specializing in technology in education.

The university mailed him the degree and several other signed, stamped and apparently certified documents. He said he even received a graduation cap and gown.

Sniedzins repeatedly told CBC Toronto that he never suspected a degree based on life experience that required no academic work, studying or exams could be fake as it was in line with his approach to education.

… Any doubts Sniedzins may have had were also eased by what appears to be a sworn affidavit, included in his package of documents, supposedly signed by former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry.

“I really feel stupid if [it’s a diploma mill], and I’m angry about it,” Sniedzins said.


UD thanks Jack.

Go Big or Go Home…

… is the mantra of many an academic scammer, as in the case of Ireland’s Fergus Heffernan, a floridly compulsive liar with a thriving business as a lecturer on mental health.

Like a lot of degree frauds, Fergus seems to have decided somewhere way back that having issued himself a PhD, he might as well manufacture an array of further achievements.

[H]is doctoral qualification in psychology is fake …

[An] investigation also revealed he had falsely claimed to be a visiting professor at a number of top international universities, and that his claim to have served with the Irish Defence Forces in Lebanon in 1976 was untrue — as there was no conflict in Lebanon until 1978.

In response to these discrepancies, he said he used the wrong terminology and that he was a “visiting lecturer”.

He also claimed that he was in fact in Lebanon in 1978.

… [He] claimed to be a visiting professor at Trinity College Dublin, Boston University, and Columbia University in New York.

All three institutions have ­confirmed they have no record of any employment or affiliation with Mr Heffernan.

Now that the world has enjoyed the feel-good story of high school students outing their scamming new principal…

… it’s time for the feel-bad part.

The dull-witted Kansas public schools superintendent who showed gross negligence not only in hiring the scammer, but in condescendingly and aggressively defending her against his sharp-witted students should, UD believes, resign. He has brought international embarrassment to his district. Even after he was forced to fire the diploma mill grad, he noted, with persistent gullibility, that she “also has a teaching degree from the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England.”

It is clear that the superintendent’s education on matters of credentials is happening much, much too slowly.

He needs to go.

“They worked very hard to uncover the truth.”

Actually, journalism students at Pittsburg High School in Kansas didn’t have to work all that hard to discover that their incoming principal (salary close to $100,000) had diploma mill degrees. They just did what the people in charge of educating Pittsburg’s high school students couldn’t bother doing: They checked her out online.

“If students could uncover this, I want to know why the adults couldn’t find this,” said their journalism advisor; and in response UD says: Check out the credentials of the people who were supposed to check her out. Public education (with charter schools right behind) is a notorious dumping ground for frauds who bought their degrees. This blog used to cover such cases, but there were so many of them, and they were so redundant in style and content, that I stopped doing that. Now I only cover fun diploma mill stories like this one, where students had to do the work of the the superintendent, and everyone else in Pittsburg pulling down a good salary to do due diligence on behalf of public school students.

Worse, the local superintendent ignorantly and indignantly defended the diploma mill grad… Until he couldn’t anymore, presumably because of the outcry from parents, teachers, and students.

Now it’s a big national story.


… Robertson was unable to produce a transcript confirming her undergraduate degree from the University of Tulsa …

UD thanks Janet for sending her this very detailed Washington Post account.

Back when she followed stories like this closely, UD always used to say that you could probably get away with buying or fabricating all of your degrees if you kept your head down. By which UD meant that modest diploma millers, content with anonymous mid-level employment in the military, the fire department, or public ed (America’s three big milltowns), will probably live out their lives quite comfortably, drawing reasonably good salaries on the basis of having spent five thousand dollars on a totally bogus BA and MA. It’s only when they rise enough in the world to merit the slightest degree of vetting (and even there, as the Pittsburg case, pre-journalism students, demonstrates, there probably ain’t gonna be much vetting) that diploma millers run a risk of exposure.

I don’t mean to suggest that America is overrun with diploma mill grads. Pakistan, yes. Saudi Arabia, definitely. Once Hungary finishes pushing Central European University out of that country, it will certainly have made itself a much friendlier home for diploma mill grads.

Most countries are chockful of bogus degree holders, from the president on down, and no one cares. No one in a position of responsibility in the public schools of Pittsburg Kansas cared. But UD will say this: America has fewer bogus degree holders than probably any other country; and America even occasionally unmasks and removes bogus degree holders. That is a remarkable, distinctive, fact about UD‘s homeland.


You just can’t keep a good story down.

And that photo!


Explanatory Update: Why, you ask, has UD said nothing about those other two immense stretches – as far as the eye can see – of American diploma mills?

Why has she not even bothered mentioning here our profuse and hilarious online godbots, grinding out bogus preachers?

Why has she failed to discuss our equally pious high school diploma mills, whose function is to grind out plausible transcripts which allow schools like today’s scandal-plagued darling, the University of North Carolina, to admit their extraordinarily physically fit graduates? He got all A’s at Glorious and Merciful Supreme Master of the Playing Field Prep!

Why should ol’ UD waste time on these structural elements of modern American culture? We couldn’t have Touchdown Jesus without them.

Trump’s Weakest Flank: He Founded a University.

“The smart people will never be on our side,” announced Rick Santorum in his last run for the presidency; he attacked Obama’s hope to see all Americans attend university as “snobbery.” Obama, Santorum’s side said again and again, was an “intellectual snob.”

Sarah Palin led the charge, but several candidates followed in relentlessly calling Obama “professor.” Another high-profile Republican, Scott Brown, “consistently addressed [Elizabeth] Warren as ‘professor’” in their debates and in his speeches. Palin, in her first speech after being named a candidate for vice-president, said “we need a commander in chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.”

Apparently a lot of voters (not enough – all of the people I’ve just cited lost) despise universities because that’s where the liberals and the atheists roam. The very words “professor” and “university” are red meat to them.

That’s why Donald Trump has some splainin to do. He not only taught at a university; he founded a university. He put his name on a university: Trump University. Here’s his Chairman’s Welcome – complete with a British voice-over (Trump’s uber-snobby Anglo thing reappears in the symbol of Trump University – a lion rampant, drawn from British heraldry) which praises him as an “educator,” a graduate of “prestigious schools,” and the “author of many books.” Trump says, “I like academic life.”


On the positive side of the ledger, Trump has been sued for having opened Trump U. This allows him to tell his constituency that it was all a big mistake.

As our native tax syphons – the for-profit ed scams – are forced to shut down…

… their ex-employees can always find work in Pakistan.

Testamur-Faking in Australia

And a very professional outfit it is.

Another Degree Faker Forgets the “Below the Radar” Rule.

As UD has long noted on this blog, if you’ve bought your diploma(s) from a diploma mill, or if you’ve forged your diplomas, you stand a chance of getting away with it if and only if you content yourself with a middling sort of place in the world. The minute you begin to rise, people start checking your credentials. If you want to go undetected, you must figure out a way to avoid or reject any career event that will make you an object of bureaucratic interest.

And yes, I’ve got a current example.

One Kimberly Kitchen practiced a little estate law out in the boonies for years without attracting any attention. Unfortunately, she did it so well that her firm decided to make her partner. The people reviewing her noticed certain, er, discrepancies in her paperwork, and began looking further.

According to her resumé, she graduated summa cum laude from Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh and had taught trust and taxation law at the Columbia University School of Law.

But the state attorney general’s office and a criminal complaint say none of her credentials hold up. Kitchen allegedly forged numerous documents attesting that she was a licensed attorney, including an attorney’s license for 2014, supposed bar examination results, supposed records of her law school attendance and a check purporting to show she’d paid her registration fees.

A forger’s work is never done. But Kitchen could have stayed in Permanent Forge mode for many more years were it not for her apparently unblockable worldly success. That’s what did her in.

Here at University Diaries, we don’t cover diploma mill grads unless these people are outstanding, extensive, users of diploma mills…

… and unless these same people have achieved high-level jobs in education and related fields.

Cindy Holguin, CEO of a New Mexico charter school, seems more than amply to fit the bill:

Holguin is … fighting back against allegations regarding her qualifications to lead the school as CEO.

[D]egrees held by Holguin from Belford University, … a proven diploma scam, [are] invalid and did not meet standards set by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

Holguin told the Current-Argus the only degree she used in applying for her position was an associate’s degree obtained from the Carlsbad campus of New Mexico State University in 1995.

The university was unable to find a record of that degree when requested by the Current-Argus.

In addition, Holguin said she has an MBA from New York State University Online from 2007.

Holguin said she would not cite her degrees from Belford University, saying those were not degrees she was “proud of.”

The I didn’t cite them or We didn’t use them in assessing her qualifications for the job are classic diploma mill-revelation moves… Yes, yes, she got two PhDs from East Ipswich Institute of Holistic Theology… But those are totally irrelevant to her work as superintendent of schools, so they don’t count… I got those degrees when I was a single mother subsisting on dog food and I was desperate…

But Holguin, if these reports are accurate, goes way beyond that. According to my count, she’s got at least four degrees, and it’s possible that none of them exists. I’ve never heard of New York State University Online. New Mexico State University has never heard of Cindy Holguin. And for all we know, there are several other degrees she’s not proud of and doesn’t list for certain jobs…

This is one of the most impressive diploma mill hauls UD has seen, and she’s seen a lot. She has speculated on this blog before about how this happens – how you accumulate not one or two but four or five bogus degrees. Her theory is that once you enter the twilight zone, the outer limits, of university degrees, you are in danger of being lured even deeper into the universe. Why stop at Calaspia when you can take your spaceship to Deltora and then Eternia?

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