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DOJ files charges, alleges 7,600 fake nursing diplomas were awarded

DOJ files charges, alleges 7,600 fake nursing diplomas were awarded

Justice Department has filed federal charges against 25 people accused of participating in a scheme allegedly issued by three Florida-based schools that issued 7,600 fake nursing diplomas.

The DOJ said the suspects “engaged in a scheme to sell fraudulent nursing degree diplomas and transcripts obtained from accredited Florida-based nursing schools to individuals seeking licensure and employment as registered nurses and licensed practical/vocational nurses.”

But the aspiring nurses never completed the required courses and clinicals, the DOJ said.

Prosecutors said it was an issue of public safety.

“Not only is this a public safety concern, but it also tarnishes the reputation of nurses who actually complete the demanding clinical and course work required to obtain their professional licensure and employment,” Florida said US Attorney for the Southern District of America, Marchenzie LaPointe.

Eligible buyers were allowed to sit for the National Board of Nursing exam and after passing it, to obtain licenses and jobs as RN and LPN/VN in various states. The test was taken in Florida, New York, New Jersey and Texas.

The DOJ alleges that since 2016 more than 7,600 fake nursing diplomas were issued by the three nursing schools at $15,000 each, earning them more than $114 million.

Each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison. Prosecutors said he was charged with conspiracy to commit and commit wire fraud.

โ€œHealth care fraud is nothing new to South Florida, as many scammers see it as an easy, though illegal, way to make money,โ€ said Chad Yarbrough, Acting Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. โ€œWhat is troubling about this investigation is that there are more than 7,600 people across the country with fake nursing credentials who are potentially in critical health care roles treating patients. If the diligence and hard work of the investigators in this case Had it not been for the extent of this fraud, it would not have been known.”

Broward County, Fla. Siena College in Palm Beach County, Fla. The Palm Beach School of Nursing in the U.S., and the Sacred Heart International Institute in Broward County are now closed. None of the students involved were criminally charged.

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