WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Twenty-five people school officials in South Florida are being investigated for selling 7,600 fake diplomas to nursing license applicants.
- The fake degrees and transcripts allow applicants to sit for the national nursing board exam.
- According to reports, nursing students paid a total of $114 million for fraudulent degrees.
Twenty-five people have been arrested for their involvement in a scheme to sell fake degrees and transcripts from three nursing schools in South Florida, according to newly unsealed court documents.
The schools are being investigated for allegedly selling more than 7,600 fake diplomas, federal prosecutors announced on Wednesday.
Nursing aspirants who bought these fake diplomas will be allowed to sit for the national nursing board exam and secure licenses and jobs in various states, the Department of Justice said.
Reports identified the three schools involved as Siena College, Palm Beach School of Nursing and Sacred Heart International Institute. All three have since closed after the news broke.
Each of the 25 defendants can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
“Not only is this a public safety concern, it also tarnishes the reputation of nurses who actually complete the demanding clinical and course work required to obtain their professional licenses and employment,” said Markenzy Lapointe, a U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, in a statement.
A fraud scheme such as this “erodes public trust in our health care system,” Lapointe added.
According to reports from the Miami Herald, many who purchased the fake degrees were from South Florida’s Haitian American community and had legitimate LPN licenses as part of their bid to become registered nurses. Others who bought them were from out of state.
The Herald reported that around 7,600 nursing students paid a total of $114 million for fraudulent degrees.
Nursing boards in all 50 states have been notified of the students who passed nursing exams with a fraudulent degree, though the students themselves will not be criminally charged, the Herald reports.