Owners of two high-school diploma mills can no longer sell the bogus certificates, for which they had collected $11 million. They've been banned from the practice under a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
For $200 to $300, those who needed a high school diploma could get one from "Jefferson High School Online" and "Enterprise High School Online," the FTC said. The victims were led to believe that a multiple-choice test given on the site legitimized the diplomas. The site operators even conjured up a phony accreditation organization to make the diplomas appear more authentic, the FTC said.
A federal judge in September had temporarily halted the operations at the FTC's request.
Alexander Wolfram and IDM Services, and Maria Garcia settled charges that they duped consumers into paying for the phony diplomas. An $11 million judgment is partially suspended over the defendants' inability to pay.
It's not clear from the settlement how much will be paid out and how much might be made available for restitution for those who paid for the diplomas.
The FTC is separately seeking a judgment with similar terms against these defendants for operating two other mills, Diversified Educational Resources and Motivational Management & Development Services.
The FTC warns consumers that any degree for sale that does involve doing schoolwork isn't legitimate. Some schools will award credits for life experience, the FTC said, but not an entire degree.
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