Buying a degree online may be legal, but attempting to pass it off as a real diploma is illegal in 11 states, as of 2015. For example, Oregon laws state that individuals face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine for using fake diplomas.
Colleges that dispense fake degrees are called diploma mills. Some diploma mills manipulate laws and boldly advertise their exploitation of legal loopholes in selling diplomas. Such fake colleges charge no fees to provide fake transcripts to support the fake diplomas they generate. Customers self-identify as having worked enough years to qualify for a college diploma, and spend at least $200 with one of the college's affiliates to "graduate."