In recent years, Telegram has become a popular platform for illegal trading – and has made the counterfeiting industry flourish and become more accessible than ever. Now, a Walla! Technology reveals that in stark contrast to the law, merchants in the messaging app easily offer for sale an unbearable academic degree to anyone who demands it.
It is important to emphasize: the counterfeiting industry has existed for many years in the dark network (Dark-Net), but it is accessible only to those who really want to reach it. These are now visible telegram groups – offering the deals without fear. In our research we were able to reach four different groups that were opened up for the benefit of trading in fake certificates, from different traders, showing off satisfied customers who had already received a fake degree.
In one of the groups, which has oil stored in the system, it was written to the registrants that more than 2,000 people had already made a purchase and that the degree could be obtained within a few days. What are the options? All in accordance with the customer’s request, with prices ranging from NIS 2,000 for a bachelor’s degree certificate to NIS 2,500 for a fake master’s degree certificate.
In another group with more than 8,300 people registered, a message was posted for all users: “Of course we deal with illegal things and yet we advocate discipline safety and reliability on the part of our messengers and our customers. Please stay attentive to procedures. You are being forced and the safety and discretion of the Japanese is everything, of course. ” (Errors in the original – IB).
Choose a degree – and within three days you have a certificate
So how do you get a fake degree? In a Walla! Technology with a counterfeiter in the Telegram Group that opened last September, it turned out that we can choose any academic institution and degree type we want – if only we pay. Below we were presented as an example of a fake certificate of a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, in the kindergarten program for ages 0-6.
To understand if we too can get a degree in early childhood education without any experience in the field, and against the background of the proliferation of violence in nurseries across the country, we turned to traders and impersonated a man interested in early childhood education for his wife who wants to open a nursery, emphasizing .
During the call we wondered within a few days the fake certificate would be ready, and we asked again if it was possible to choose the type of institution from which we would “get” the degree. In response, the man behind the telegram channel noted that the price is NIS 1,500 (the price is lower than the published price list), and even added: “You will receive a certificate, everything is arranged in your wife’s name. You can have fun at home.”
And that’s not all, in a conversation with another anonymous seller we were offered to purchase the certificate for NIS 2,000, when the payment is in cash or in crypto (digital currency). He claims it is an accurate forgery (“one-on-one”) that passes all the tests. The merchant also explained to us that the degree can be obtained “within three days from the moment of order”.
Due to the fact that this is an anonymous purchase by both the merchant and the buyer, which makes it difficult for the Israel Police to locate the activity, when we asked one of the counterfeiters for samples of forged certificates, we were refused. On the other hand, another anonymous seller, who controls several Telegram accounts, actually agreed to share with us examples of forged certificates – and here they are:
- Degree in Social Sciences from Bar-Ilan University, majoring in Psychology
- Practical Engineer Degree in Electronics Engineering from the College of Management
- Degree in Public Health – MPH from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
“My sister also wants to do a degree with you”
Along with the offer of getting an academic degree in a few days, one of the merchants shared with us screenshots taken from conversations with buyers. “Thank you very much, you are doing a holy work,” read the documentation sent to us. Another photo read: “I got the degree now. By the way, my sister also wants to do a master’s degree with you, I recommend her to you.”
“Dramatic warning bell for decision makers and government”
Daniel Bichler, chairman of the Dor Eitan Association for the Advancement of the Status of the Child, commented on the publication and told Walla! Technology that “this is a very serious news, but unfortunately not surprising. “Many years of neglect in the field of early childhood education have made this sensitive and important issue break out in a boundless way.”
“Early childhood is the most important developmental stage in any child’s life, and the rotten apples that blacken this industry harm children and parents and cause long-term damage that no one pays the price for. “This is a dramatic warning bell for the decision-makers and the government who are committed to taking immediate action to fully regulate the field.”
Einat Gordon Sheier, an educational instructor at the association, adds that “if this is the case, it is a very disturbing and worrying thing. It should be examined in depth immediately and addressed. We recommend from every employer whether it is a supervised residence or a private kindergarten, despite the difficulty of recruiting staff to interview and do an in-depth examination of the background and experience and relevant certificates before the employment. We also recommend an apprenticeship / experience period. “
Demonstration of the parents of the nursery in Ramla, Photo: Avshalom Shashoni
Prof. Haim Shaked, president of the Hemdat HaDarom Academic College of Education, commented on the publication and said in response to Walla! Technology that “Hemdat HaDarom Academic College of Education makes great efforts to prevent any possible falsification of degree eligibility certificates. The certificates have a number of unique marks, which make it difficult to forge. “It will absorb more facts and teaching staff on the basis of the printed certificate in their possession, but solely on the basis of the registration in the online database.”
Prof. Shaked also said that it was recently discovered that a student who came to study at the academic institution in the program for converting academics to teaching, produced a forged certificate for a degree he allegedly received at another academic institution and that “the administration immediately stopped the student, filed a complaint with the police. All concerned. “
Bar-Ilan University responded: “We take the issue seriously and will contact the police if necessary.”
The Council for Higher Education (MLAG) responded: “The MLAG takes the phenomenon of forging academic certificates very seriously, which constitutes a criminal offense, condemns and condemns it outright.”
We asked the Israel Police for a response, but it refused to respond and asked us to go to the nearest station and file a complaint for the purpose of opening an investigation.