I stumbled across this local Ann Arbor craigslist posting (since flagged for removal, and hence reproduced below) that advertises for a “ghost student” to take someone’s online master’s courses for them. Surprisingly, on the surface, the poster wants someone to earn a B average and occasionally fail classes. Why not pay for As? Potentially for a couple of reasons.
- Maybe you’re getting compensated for doing this masters and want to drag it out. Seems unlikely, considering how much they are willing to pay
- They realize the single biggest problem with faking academic credentials is getting caught, and if you want to avoid detection, it’s best to fly under the radar.
I strongly suspect that #2 is the major factor here. Carol Moseley Braun was found out within just days of misstating she had degrees from Harvard, when she merely held visiting fellow position at the school. Marilee Jones, on the other hand, claimed degrees from far less-renowned institutions, but was able to keep them on her resume for 28 years, because who is going to lie about having a degree from Union College? (You may remember Jones as the resume-padding fraud who, as dean of admissions for MIT, urged applicants not to pad their resume. Comedy gold.) Similarly, no one is going to check into your college records if you earn a B average and fail several classes. But if you are the shining star of your graduating cohort, somebody might just try to verify that you’re really taking your classes.
Full text of the ad:
What I need:
A U of M student
who is capable of good quality Masters level work
who is dependable
lives in the area
will be around for 21 months or at least 9 months
knows APA formatting
To do what:
Take my online Masters Degree program for me as if they were me
For how long:
The game plan:
I need B level 3.0 work I need you to occasionally fail classes so the degree takes a little longer too
6 credits which is two 3 credit classes every 16 weeks, 16 weeks is one semester, one class at a time so one class every 8 weeks, total of 30 credits
When you fail:
You must participate weekly in the course discussions and submit assignments weekly and participate actively so you are not withdrawn from the course. You must write based on personal opinion and cite Wikipedia and do poor work so as to fail but actively participate the whole semester.
$100 per week when you get the B’s. Paid to you the Monday after the Sunday night everything is due after you submit the work (I will be checking that you do the work). I can meet up with you for cash or we can arrange to set up a prepay VISA SERVE card or other such system for electronic transfer of funds or paypal so we don’t need to ever meet up and you just get paid online directly. When you fail you only get $50 a week because it’s less work. So $1,600 for the semester with B’s. $800 for the F’s or D’s.
E-mail me with a little about yourself and why you would want to do this and how you would have the time to do the work. I will respond quickly. I need to pick someone by October 28. Please e-mail about yourself. If after a couple e-mails you sound like you’re the one. I would want to see some examples of your papers you’ve written for school to know you can do the work. Then meet up in person to give you the books and my passwords and everything.
START OCTOBER 28
Obligatory LOL at the requirement that the applicant be “honest.” But if people are going to cheat, I’d rather see them do it cleverly. Stupid cheaters are the most depressing thing in academia.