On September 19, the Federal Trade Commission announced the takedown of a sham school operating out of Fort Lauderdale. Jefferson High School LLC shared its name with a brick-and-mortar institution in Tampa. Although the similarity made it sound legitimate, the State Attorney's Office says Jefferson was anything but: Getting a diploma or transcript simply required taking a rigged test and completing what's nominally referred to as an essay.
Photo by Josh Davis via Flickr
Florida is rife with these so-called diploma mills. In 2010, a background screening firm in the U.K. said the state had the fourth-highest number of them in the nation, 57. An article in the South Florida Business Journal that year claimed the industry was worth "more than $100 million."
The FTC found that Jefferson High School LLC, formerly known as Diversified Educational Resources LLC, raked in more than $11 million in five years. For about $200, anyone could purchase a transcript indicating proficiency in subjects such as "Russian II" and "Home Economics." All it took was a 100-question test on which applicants were allowed to guess four times for each multiple-choice question, which guaranteed a passing grade.More »