Confessions of a Ghostwriter: Man's Career Thrives Helping Students Cheat

Ghostwriter "Ed" fesses up to writing thousands of papers and theses.

ByABC News
December 13, 2010, 10:14 AM

Dec. 13, 2010— -- That nurse taking your blood pressure? She may not have written her college term papers. Ditto for your accountant, your pharmacist, your child's school principal.

Cheating has come a long way since the days when answers were written on the palm of a student's hand.

Meet "Ed."

He agreed to talk to ABC News' David Muir as long as we changed his name to protect his identity. He said he's helped thousands of students graduate by writing their term papers, final exams, even doctoral theses. Many of them are on highly specialized topics, including national and maritime security. And his clients rarely get caught.

"Not too far back I completed a doctorate in cognitive psychology," he said.

And while his services mean the students don't have to crack open a book, "Ed" says he usually doesn't either. The Internet, he said, has made him a kind of jack-of-all-trades.

"I Google everything. Everything is Google-able," he said. "I hardly leave the house."

In addition to Google, he also taps in to scholarly journals and the free book samples offered on

He's even written papers for seminary students -- and found himself amused at the irony.

"Well, you know, if you're studying in a highly moralistic field," he said, "one might suggest you should be concerned about the moral implications of it."

"Ed," who has since left his job, wrote about his career last month in an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

"In the midst of this great recession, business is booming," he wrote in the Chronicle. "At busy times, during midterms and finals, my company's staff of roughly 50 writers is not large enough to satisfy the demands of students who will pay for our work and claim it as their own."

Despite advances in technology to prevent cheating and an increase in vigilance by professors, estimates as to how many students cheat are still high. According to researchers at the Center for Academic Integrity, more than two-thirds of college students have admitted to cheating.