Pencader Charter High School’s Leader, Ann Lewis, claims to have a PhD from Westfield University. The only problem with that is Westfield University is a known “degree mill.” The News Journal in Delaware completed an investigation in June and uncovered the bogus degree, however, Ms. Lewis is sticking to her story that Westfield is a legitimate educational institution. In fact, after being confronted with evidence that the school is a degree mill, she still contended that she earned her PhD and claims she has asked for transcripts to be sent to her.
She did provide an email from a person she communicated with at Westfield named, “Martha.” The News Journal investigation was able to link Martha’s email address and phone number to another website, www.college-degree-fast.com, which Ms. Lewis claimed she had never heard of.
Several points made on the website that indicate it may not disburse legitimate degrees include:
- No Bad Press Online, Your University will not be on any "Mill List"
- Full Verification Service, Registrar Contact Phone/Fax on Transcripts
- Professionally Produced Documents
- Accredited, Minimum of two Accreditations for your University
- Empower Your Career, Increase your Salary
- No Study, No Tests-Get your Degree based on what you already know
- Fastest, Most affordable Program on the net
Each one of these bullet points should be a red flag to an individual that the degree they are paying for isn’t legitimate, and yet people are tricked into this scam every day. Because the entities behind the websites are typically located outside of US Borders, the federal government doesn’t have the ability to go after them legally. That said, some states are passing legislation making it illegal for people to purchase a bogus degree and present it as legitimate.
It should be noted that Ms. Lewis’ position does not require a PhD and she did receive a Masters from the University of Phoenix, which is accredited. The concern is that a leader of a high school was purporting to have a PhD from an unaccredited institution. When conducting employment screening not only is it extremely important to verify a person’s educational credentials when the position warrants it, but this story also drives home the necessity of verifying the legitimacy of the institution issuing the degrees.