Nairobi – The growth of online college degrees has created more opportunities for American students to outsource their schoolwork, resulting in a booming billion dollar cheat industry centered in the country of Kenya East Africa.
Many impoverished young Kenyans invest heavily in their studies but find it difficult to find work after graduation. Looking for a way to support themselves after school, they embark on the business of helping American students cheat.
“You can’t fly. You have to find something for yourself to do,” William, a young man in Kenya who works in the cheating industry, told CBS News. He asked that we not use his real name in our report.
William pays US websites for accounts to connect with US students, then outsources the cheat work to other Kenyan writers. He earns over $ 2,000 a month, but says he is ashamed of working in the “trial for hire” industry.
“It’s not really something you should be proud of, telling people that you are helping others cheat,” he said.
How it works?
Reputable US websites with names like “JedII Trial” offer legitimate services such as academic assistance, tutoring, or research. Some American students, however, use these sites to connect with writers in Kenya that they hire to do their schoolwork for them, from one-off essays to full college degrees.
American students pay between $ 20 and $ 50 for a page of work written by a Kenyan writer in a process known as “contract cheating”. Account owners, like William, typically take 75% of the profits and then outsource some of the work to other copywriters, who can earn as little as five dollars per page.
Contract fraud is illegal in 17 states, but it is not illegal at the federal level and its enforcement is rare.
In a statement, the US Department of Education said it “is not authorized to exercise oversight over matters relating to an institution’s curriculum or academic policies.” Instead, he said that “regulations regarding distance education require federally recognized accrediting agencies to have requirements that institutions have processes in place establishing that any student who attends enrolled in a distance education course or program is the same student who enrolls in the course or program. These standards and processes help institutions identify instances of academic dishonesty. An accreditation body could review these policies . “
The Essay JedII website stated, “All delivered products are considered research services and / or original samples and should not be used as completed documents for subsequent submission at educational institutions, however, we cannot control or limit its further use as owner. copyright. ” They said they were “unpleasantly surprised” to hear that their platform could be used for cheating and that they would work to strengthen their verification processes.
William, who struggled to pay his rent before he started working in the cheating industry, says he’s done full degrees for some of his clients.
“I graduated (a student), and now I’m doing his masters,” he told CBS News. “He promised me that I would also do his doctorate.”
“We hope our doctors have gone to medical school”
“I think the state of cheating in colleges and universities is serious and is getting more and more serious,” David Rettinger, professor of ethics at the University of Mary Washington, told CBS News.
He said cheating is problematic because it means people can get a degree without actually being qualified in their field.
“We hope our doctors have been to medical school,” Rettinger said. “Cheating leads us to global social corruption because it leads us to have a bunch of professionals who can’t actually do the job they claim they can do.”
Joanne, who also requested that we not use her real name in our report, entered the cheating industry when she couldn’t find a job after graduating from school. secondary school in Nairobi, said she was taking full classes for an American student in a wide range of subjects.
“Yesterday I did an argumentative essay on emotional support animals, and I also researched the invention of insulin,” she told CBS News.
“They just have the name, but then we have the skills”
Between them, Joanne and William say they’ve brought American college students their way through everything from American history to engineering, even medicine. They say fraud requests come from everywhere, from small online colleges to large state universities.
Williams says he wants to stop working in the cheating business, but with so many Kenyans living in extreme poverty, he says there will be many more graduates waiting to take his place.
“They just have the name, but then we have the skills,” William says, of all the college work he’s done. “We have the knowledge and we have the experience.”