Federal authorities in Florida have brought charges against 25 people who participated in a “wire fraud scheme” that facilitated a shortcut for aspiring nurses to become licensed. According to the Associated Press, the scheme “sold more than 7,600 fraudulent nursing degree diplomas from three Florida-based nursing schools.”
Fake nursing diploma scheme leads to federal charges against 25 https://t.co/x82CSaTxFG
— Axios (@axios) January 27, 2023
The Fraudulent Nursing Diploma Scheme Poses A Huge Health Concern
In addition, prosecutors say the nursing schools also facilitated transcripts for people “people seeking licenses and jobs as registered nurses and licensed practical/vocational nurses.” The defendants each face up to 20 years in prison.
U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe shared his thoughts about the scheme.
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… a fraud scheme like this erodes public trust in our health care system.
According to the outlet, the fake diplomas and transcripts allowed purchasers to sit for the national nursing board exam. And if they passed, they could obtain jobs and licenses in various states.
Siena College, Palm Beach School of Nursing, and Sacred Heart International Institute — the three involved schools — have now been closed. Investigators “have not found” that any of the nurses who received the fake transcripts or degrees “caused harm to patients.”
Students Reportedly Paid $114M For Fake Degrees Between 2016-2021
Purchasers paid $114 million for fake degrees between 2016 and 2021. The cost for an individual diploma ran as high as $15,000, as reported by ABC News.
Out of the 7,600 degrees sold, 2,400 purchasers passed their licensing exams. And those people were located “mainly in New York.”
The outlet notes that nurses “certified in New York are allowed to practice in Florida and many other states.” According to the Associated Press, those people could lose their certification. But most likely, will not face criminal charges.
25 suspects across five states are being charged with issuing fake nursing diplomas for thousands of dollars. @shesinscrubs, a nurse herself, says the nursing shortage must be addressed, but it's “sad” people are putting patients in harm's way.
— NewsNation (@NewsNation) January 26, 2023
Defendants in the case include “owners, operators and employees” of the schools who “prepared and sold fake nursing school diplomas and transcripts to nursing candidates.” According to the outlet, the defendants knew the candidates “would use those false documents to one, sit for nursing board examinations, secure nursing licenses, and three ultimately obtain nursing jobs in medical facilities — not only in Florida, but elsewhere across the country.”
Additional defendants charged in the case include “recruiters” who would bring in “would-be buyers.”