May 8, 2014— -- This is the time of year families celebrate the achievement of a college or advanced degree that may have cost tens of thousands of dollars.
But James Enowitch would have sold one for 500 bucks.
Enowtch, of Cromwell, Conn., pleaded guilty today in federal court in Philadelphia to fraud for hawking bogus diplomas.
Between 2003 and 2012, federal prosecutors said he and an unnamed partner sold $5 million worth of fake degrees from schools such as Redding University, Suffield University and Bryson University, “none of which were actual schools that conducted any coursework and all of which sold degrees and transcripts for a fee,” court records said.
“Those purported universities were actually diploma mills in that they had no faculty, offered no academic curricula or services, required no course or class work, and were not recognized by the United States Department of Education,” federal prosecutors said in a statement today.
Enowitch created a fictitious accrediting body, the “National Distance Learning Accreditation Council,” to claim the schools that backed the fake degrees were properly accredited,” court records said.
The operation was run out of Connecticut but fake degrees were sold across the country and around the world through seven different websites, prosecutors said. The prices varied depending on the level of degree sought.
According to charging documents, Enowitch would advertise as follows:
- Associate Degree Package is $475
- Bachelor's Degree Package is $495
- Master's Degree Package is $525
- Doctoral Degree Package is $550
There was a “multi-degree discount” for buying more than one, prosecutors said, and for an added fee customers could select grades for courses never taken.
Enowitch faces a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.