Lawmakers seek diploma mill crackdown

Lawmakers seek diploma mill crackdown

The FBI, Postal Service, Government Accountability Office and Federal Trade Commission should confront diploma mill operators with prosecution and enforcement, witnesses and lawmakers said at a congressional hearing today.

'A little law enforcement and publicity would go a long way' toward stemming the diploma mill problem, said Michael Castle (R-De.) at a hearing of the House Education and Workforce Subcommittee on 21st Century Competitiveness.

'We need additional focus from the FBI and other agencies that can prosecute mail and wire fraud,' said Dale L. Kildee of Michigan, the subcommittee's ranking Democrat.

Allen Ezell, a former FBI agent who investigated diploma mills in the 1980s, said the FBI should assign an agent permanently to the issue. He said one flagrant diploma mill operation pulls in more than $400 million annually and will not be deterred until its ringleaders face prosecution.

Robert J. Cramer, GAO's managing director for special investigations, described how his agency had set up a diploma mill overseas and arranged to get it qualified for federal aid. Cramer said the Education Department now assures that foreign schools are properly licensed before they become eligible under the Federal Family Education Loan program.

'What especially disturbs me is that the FBI is no longer pursuing this crime,' said subcommittee member Vernon Ehlers (R-Mich.). He said even though the bureau has its hands full with counterterrorism, more resources should go to investigating diploma mill operators.

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