A massive, coordinated scheme to sell false and fraudulent nursing degree credentials has been brought down by a joint federal law enforcement operation, Justice Department officials said Wednesday.
As first reported by ABC News, officials said the scheme involved peddling more than $100 million worth of bogus nursing diplomas and transcripts over the course of several years — fake credentials that were sold to help “thousands of people” take “shortcuts” toward becoming licensed, practicing nurses.
Officials said the forged diplomas and transcripts were sold from what had been accredited schools to aspiring nurses, in order to help candidates bypass the qualifying requirements necessary to sit for the national nursing board exam. Although they still had to take the exam, the bogus credentials allowed them to skip vital steps of the competency and licensure process, officials said — and once licensed, those individuals were able to find a job in the health care field.
Overall, the conspiracy involved the distribution of over 7,600 fake nursing diplomas and certificates issued by Florida-based nursing programs, according to officials.
“This is probably one of the most brazen schemes that I’ve seen. And it does shock the mind,” Omar Perez Aybar, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), told ABC News in an exclusive interview.