The website in this case, Stanley High School, is set up to hook people and can look legit. Lots of pictures of smiling students, official sounding terms like accreditation, and a nifty seal complete with a Latin motto are plastered on every page. This helped convince the client to spend over $200 for a useless piece of paper.
So what are some red flags to keep an eye out for?
- As with all scams, if it sounds too good to be true it most likely is. All you need to graduate from a fine institution such as Stanley is to keep taking the same 98 multiple choice questions until you reach “your desired score outcome” and then just pay for your diploma.
- They are all accredited. The question is who accredited the school? In the case of Stanley, a search of its accreditation agency looped back to Stanley. I.E. Stanley is accredited by the ACOSE. The ACOSE is used by Stanley for accreditation. Also, the link to the ACOSE on Stanley’s page was a dead link.
- State funding for students stops at age 21. A free high school enrollment after that age is very unlikely.
- Check the enrolment standards. All Joe Rockmore (my nom de plume for this little experiment) needed to enroll was an email and a phone number. Any state funded school in Arizona requires a valid Arizona picture I.D., that is why we always want to see one before we even sign a client up for intake.
There are some real online schools out there, that is what makes this a difficult issue. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much digging to find the truth.