Realistic Fake Spanish University Degree Certificates Sold in the Dominican Republic–20 Arrested in Spain.

Image courtesy of 20 residents of Spain have been arrested for obtaining fake diplomas and using them to get jobs.
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By Jonathan Mason-June 14th, 2023.

In a high-profile crackdown on an extensive digital fraud operation, the Spanish National Police have arrested 20 individuals for obtaining fake university degree certificates online.

Spanning the length and breadth of the country, the investigation continues to investigate over 100 suspects. The forgery operation appears to have ties to a criminal gang in the Dominican Republic, that specializes in selling bogus university degrees to Spanish citizens.

The organization had the ability to replicate the die-cut stamps of Spanish academic institutions and possessed a collection of signatures from numerous rectors and secretaries of educational centers, according to the Madrid security forces.

The investigation was initiated in June of 2022, when a concerned agency alerted the police about the possible existence of fraudulent university degrees. The authorities examined several websites offering such degrees.

Most of the offers turned out to be scams, as customers never received the requested certificates and the sellers ceased all communication with them. However, investigators identified an organization that followed through with orders and delivered numerous degrees from various Spanish universities.

Once the purchase of a counterfeit degree was arranged, the organization requested payment through various money transfer platforms, while the certificate was sent using an international courier service. Customers had the option to acquire either a digital version of the degree or a physical diploma, complete with the die-cut seal, official logo, and the signatures of university authorities.

Police determined that the organization had been involved in this illegal activity since 2019, with increased activity reported in the past year. The twenty arrested individuals are facing charges of document forgery, fraud, and, in some cases, professional misconduct.

The investigation was initiated in June last year following a complaint from an official body that hinted at the possibility of counterfeit university degrees in circulation.

Investigators quickly uncovered several websites offering, for a fee, various university degrees. While most of these were part of an elaborate scam, where clients never received the degree despite making the payment, a particular criminal network seemed to be fulfilling their orders as promised.

The criminal organization at the center of the scandal displayed an alarming level of technical skill and sophistication. They could forge seals of over 30 Spanish universities, complete with a repository containing the signatures of various deans and secretaries of these institutions, necessary to be reproduced on the counterfeit degrees.

The criminal group offered its clients a digital version of the academic degree or the option to receive a physical diploma complete with the educational center’s emblems, the forged seal, and the official logos. The price for these counterfeit degrees ranged from 300 to over 1,000 euros, depending on the option chosen by the buyer.

Through meticulous investigation, authorities established that the crime syndicate started operating as early as 2019.

Still, their peak period of counterfeiting activities spanned from last year to the present. During this period, they allegedly supplied hundreds of fake university degree certificates to people in Spain who used these counterfeit documents to get jobs.

In numerous cases, the individuals under investigation were found to be enrolled in the universities from which they claimed their degrees, studying various subjects but had been unable to graduate, leading them to turn to these fraudulent methods.

The investigation remains open due to its  considerable complexity and the widespread locations of the individuals under investigation.

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