A federal list of suspected buyers of bogus degrees from a Washington state criminal diploma scheme includes a five current or former Berwyn, Il., police officers–at least one of whom allegedly sought city reimbursement for his bogus PhD in criminal justice, the Chicago Tribune reports. While it is not illegal to buy a phony degree, Illinois law forbids claiming false academic credentials for professional advancement or higher compensation.
A list of 9,600 possible buyers of bogus degrees was compiled from computers seized as part of Operation Gold Seal, a federal case that led to guilty pleas by eight conspirators who sold fake degrees from a ficitional St. Regis University and other fictional colleges with buyers from as far away as China and Papua New Guinea. Operation Gold Seal is creating shock waves nationwide, from small-town City Halls to federal bureaucracies, as officials learn about claims to specious degrees. Prices for the fake degrees ranged from several hundred dollars to more than $2,000 for a PhD.