By Alexis R. Milan
Minister of Education, Patrick Faber condemned the use and production of fraudulent academic certifications being sold on the internet via social-media site Facebook.
Faber said the Ministry does not condone this type of activity in anyway and reminded the public that anyone found distributing or using such a document under the Belize Criminal Code would be liable to two years jail time and those found guilty of being a common forger is liable to life imprisonment.
According to Faber, however, the issue highlights the need to improve the verification standards as it relates to academic certifications.
Faber said apart from the individual who had been trying to market his fraudulent services on-line the Ministry does not believe that there is any evidence to suggest that any tertiary level institution in the country was participating in the production or issuance of false documents. If it was being done, it was being done without the knowledge and consent of these institutions, Faber added.
According to Faber, the Ministry was aware of some instances in high schools where diplomas were being given to students who did not fairly earn them. He advised the managing authorities of all schools to be very stringent on their policies as it relates to the issuance of diplomas.
The matter first garnered attention when a Facebook user posted on the Belize Buy and Sell page that they were producing and selling fake diplomas for anyone who was interested. The user even provided a phone number for interested persons to contact.
One curious user contacted the number and took a screen-shot of the conversation that followed. In the conversation, “Diploma Guy” as he refers to himself explains that it takes approximately two weeks for the phony documents to be prepared.
“Diploma Guy” then explained that the cost for such a document would total $4,000 in which, 30 percent would have to be paid up front, then when the document was finished, he would send a picture of it to show it was complete and the buyer was to pay the balance. No method of payment was discussed.
“Diploma Guy” added that they made fraudulent certifications not only for Belizean institutions but for any institution internationally, including high schools, all for the same price.