Undercover agents bought fake nursing degrees with no medical experience

The following is an excerpt from Becker’s Hospital Review.

New details about the fake nursing degree scheme demonstrate the ease with which aspiring nurses could purchase the fraudulent documents, Yahoo News reported Feb. 27.

Between 2016 and 2021, more than 7,600 fake diplomas were sold to aspiring nurses who used the documents to qualify for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, even if they had not completed the necessary training and educational requirements to sit for the exam. 

“We sent in — on several occasions — undercover agents to purchase these degrees as they were explained to us and they were able to purchase the degrees having no medical background or having taken any course — they just paid the amount [$17,000],” Fernando Porras, assistant special agent with HHS’ Office of Inspector General who is overseeing the investigation into the scheme, told Yahoo News.

In total, the scheme accumulated more than $100 million.

About 37 percent of those who bought fake documents passed the test, and many went on to gain licensure and secure employment at U.S. healthcare facilities. 

Many individuals who bought degrees had prior experience working in healthcare as certified nursing assistants or licensed practical nurses.

“For those individuals, their RN or registered nurse license is the one that is annulled. But if they have met the licensing requirements to practice as an LPN, that LPN license is still, in most cases, active,” Christopher Otto, executive director of the Delaware Nurses Association, told Yahoo News.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing and its state regulatory bodies have been working closely with state and federal authorities to identify and monitor individuals across the country who allegedly purchased the fake nursing degrees.

To view a list of disciplinary actions by state, click here

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