Alleged Diploma Mill Doctor Sued Over Suicide Attempt by Teenager Who Was Patient at Clinic

A man who allegedly bought a doctorate degree from an “unaccredited diploma mill” and is accused of “abusive, fraudulent, and harmful” treatment at a clinic he runs that led a teenaged patient to attempt suicide has been sued in Federal Court by the now 18-year-old boy’s parents, the Courthouse News Service reports. The family is seeking punitive damages for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act violations, fraud, conspiracy, unauthorized practice of medicine, breach of fiduciary duty, negligence, and consumer law violations. The full Courthouse News Service report on the case is available at: http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/10/12/51226.htm.

Courthouse News Service reports the 41-page complaint contains several allegations against the lead defendant and his clinic in Wheat Ridge, Colorado and states the defendant has allegedly “been defrauding the world at large in regard to his academic background and credentials for decades” and has “also occasionally fraudulently used an ‘MD’ suffix to give others the appearance that he had a medical degree.” The complaint – which also names as defendants the alleged doctor’s wife and other members of the clinic’s staff – adds that the lead defendant “makes patients and staff refer to him as ‘Doctor’… even though he is not a doctor, did not go to medical school, did not go to psychology school, is not licensed and has a Ph.D. from an unaccredited diploma mill.”  The complaint also says the alleged diploma mill – ‘California Western University’ – is now defunct and “was not accredited by any accrediting organization and provided degrees in exchange for money and ‘life experience’” at the time the defendant purchased his Ph.D. certificate. More information is available at: http://dockets.justia.com/docket/colorado/codce/1:2012cv02665/136109/

“Diploma mills” like the one mentioned in this story are also fast becoming a problem for employers trying to verify the academic records of job applicants. As reported earlier on the ESR News blog, the second annual Accredibase™ Report for 2011 revealed a 48 percent increase worldwide in the number of known fake diploma mills, which are described in the report as “largely online entities whose degrees are worthless due to the lack of valid accreditation and recognition.” The United States was the world’s fake college capital and saw a 20 percent increase in known diploma mills. Overall, Accredibase identified approximately 5,000 suspect educational institutions and accreditors, with more than 2,600 confirmed diploma mills and more than 2,000 suspect institutions are currently under investigation for inclusion in the database. The report – which also describes warning signs to help identify diploma mills – is available at: http://www.accredibase.com/index.php?section=871&page=4493.

According to Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of background check firm Employment Screening Resources (ESR), diploma mills create a danger to employers since educational achievement can tell an employer a great deal about a job applicant’s ability, qualifications, and motivation. “Many employers feel educational credentials and qualifications are an important part of their decision making process in hiring and are a critical factor in predicting success on the job,” says Rosen, who just published a newly updated second edition his guide to background screening ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’ “For some positions, education is a prerequisite in terms of subject matter knowledge or appropriate license for the job.” Rosen adds that schools in the U.S. are generally accredited by private organizations that are recognized as legitimate accreditors by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) at http://www.chea.org/. The U.S. Department of Education also has a website where employers can determine if and how a school is accredited at: http://www.ope.ed.gov/accreditation/search.aspx.

The need for employers to conduct education verifications to verify academic credentials of employees gained national attention in May 2012 when CEO Scott Thompson of Yahoo! was found to have discrepancies in his educational record after it was revealed his Bachelor’s degree was in accounting and not accounting and computer science as biographies and securities filings claimed. Thompson left Yahoo! soon after. Rosen advises employers to not take educational accomplishments at face value without ensuring that the job applicant actually has obtained the specific degree claimed and that the degree is from a legitimate educational institution. He suggests employers check the education credentials of all job applicants and has written an article titled ‘The Basics of Education Verifications’ that is available at: http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2009/12/16/the-basics-of-education-verifications/

For more information about education verifications as part of a Safe Hiring Program, visit http://www.esrcheck.com/services/education.php.  For more information about background checks, visit Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority’ and a nationwide background screening firm accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) – at http://www.esrcheck.com/, call Toll Free 888.999.4474, or email customerservice@esrcheck.com. For information about the second edition of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR Founder and CEO Attorney Lester Rosen – which contains chapters on identity theft for employers and jobseekers – visit: http://www.esrcheck.com/SafeHiringManual.php.

Sources:
http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/10/12/51226.htm
http://dockets.justia.com/docket/colorado/codce/1:2012cv02665/136109/
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2011/03/30/new-report-reveals-48-percent-increase-worldwide-in-diploma-mills-in-past-year/
http://www.accredibase.com/index.php?section=871&page=4493
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/2012/05/07/yahoo-ceo-education-record-mentioned-in-biography-contained-discrepancy-in-degree-awarded/
http://www.esrcheck.com/wordpress/tag/education-verification/

About Employment Screening Resources (ESR):

Founded by safe hiring expert Attorney Les Rosen in 1997, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) – ‘The Background Check AuthoritySM’– provides accurate and actionable information that empowers employers to make informed hiring decisions for the benefit of their organizations, employees, and the public. CEO Rosen literally wrote the book on background checks with “The Safe Hiring Manual” and ESR is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), a distinction held by a small percent of screening firms. Employers choosing ESR know they have selected an agency meeting the highest industry standards. To learn more, visit http://www.esrcheck.com, call 888.999.4474, or email customerservice@esrcheck.com.

About ESR News:

The Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News blog – ESR News – provides employment screening information for employers, recruiters, and jobseekers on a variety of topics including credit reports, criminal records, data privacy, discrimination, E-Verify, jobs reports, legal updates, negligent hiring, workplace violence, and use of search engines and social network sites for background checks. For more information about ESR News or to send comments or questions, please email ESR News Editor Thomas Ahearn at tahearn@esrcheck.com. To subscribe to the complimentary ESRcheck Report monthly newsletter, please visit http://www.esrcheck.com/Newsletter/.