"What choice would I have? Absolutely I would've graded it," said Stephanie Cobb, associate professor of religion. "There's nothing about it I can prove."
That phony paper even slipped past software used by Hofstra and many other colleges to scans papers for red flags that the paper might not be authentic. Because these types of phony papers are custom-written and not computer-generated, most will slip past such sensors.
That's why "Ed," and the thousands more he says are out there just like him, have become somewhat of a godsend to desperate students. "Ed" said he was on track to make $66,000 this year before he got out of the business -- more than some of his clients will make after graduating using his work.
His longest assignment -- a 175-page accounting paper written over four days -- earned him $2,000.
He said he doesn't regret it at all.
"Listen, we all know cheating is wrong, and I won't make excuses for it, and I won't attempt to defend myself for the things that I've done," he said. "But at the same time, I did this to make a living."
"Ed" said he doesn't encourage cheating and called himself "something of a bull-crap artist."
"You can have whatever ethical opinions you want of me, but the problem goes on without me, so all the moral outrage in the world, will not stop it," "Ed" said. "I'm not proud and I'm not ashamed."
"Ed" said he's been stunned at times by some of the e-mails he gets. Many are so packed with nearly unintelligible grammar and atrocious spelling that he saved them.
From one client: "where u are can you get my messages? Please I pay a lot and dont have ao to faile I strated to get very worry."
From the same client: "You did me business ethics propsal for me I need propsal got approved pls can you will write me paper?"
"It's stunning but there are so many students that have never learned to write," "Ed" said.
Also surprising? Some of the students call him with their parents right alongside them.
"Parents, they're in it for the same reason that their kid is a lot of the times, which is to see their kid get the good grade, get the degree and move on" he said.
Gene, a college student, whose full name is being withheld to protect his privacy, said he has ordered multiple papers online. He hopes to someday be a lawyer.
"I was 100 percent OK with it," he said. "It's a paper. I don't think it's causing catastrophic damage, on my part."
Gene said the most he's forked over for a paper is $175 -- he needed it written by the next day. And he got a B+.
In his Chronicle essay, "Ed" said he's planning to retire, writing "I'm tired of helping you make your students look competent."
He told ABC News that professors who hear his story need to concentrate less on finding his work buried among the pile of papers they are grading and think about what it means.
"To me, the idea of trying to track down custom papers and identify cheaters, that's not as productive as understanding why 200 people, one third of an entire lecture hall," he said, "would choose to cheat."