Bogus Transcript Ring in California

Several community colleges are investigating how phony documents were obtained and submitted.
May 19, 2005

If you are going to fake a transcript, don't get too carried away promoting your brilliance.

That's what did in a group of students -- how many is still unclear -- who submitted fake transcripts from Los Angeles Trade Technical College to other community colleges in Southern California. Ann Ransford, a spokeswoman for Glendale Community College, said that registrars there noticed that students submitting transcripts for transfer credit seemed to have an unusual pattern: all A's at LA Trade Tech, then D's and F's at Glendale, where the registrar had records directly from faculty members.

Glendale has already expelled two students and is investigating 20 more.

El Camino College has suspended nine students whose transcripts the colleges has verified are false. The students all face possible expulsion through the college's judicial system. At El Camino, the fraud was uncovered when a registrar noticed that a student was claiming a large course load from El Camino, LA Trade Tech and a third college during the same time period.

Ransford said that the other thing the registrars noticed was that all of the students claiming credit on new transcripts from LA Trade Tech were "in a hurry" to get revised transcripts, to get transfer credit arranged or some other action.

Once officials realized something was wrong, they compared notes with officials at LA Trade Tech and realized there was a scam going on. All of the questioned transcripts had been hand-delivered to Glendale, and had been sealed, as is required for such transcripts.

Daniel Castro, president of LA Trade Tech, said that of the students under investigation at Glendale and El Camino, a few signed up for courses at his institution without ever taking them and most never had any connection to the college at all. He said that any students implicated would be expelled.

Castro said that an internal investigation suggested that the problem was not in his college, and that the phony transcripts were being produced by individuals not affiliated with the college. "You can go to plenty of parks and walk away with a fake ID. It's the same thing," he said. "We've been told that somebody is doing this out of a car."

At the same time, Castro said that he ordered additional security measures for the registrar's office and asked the local sheriff's office to investigate, so he could be sure "that we can clear the college's name."

Forging the college's transcript is a crime, Castro said, "and I'll be happy to press charges."


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