People generally buy fake degrees because they are hoping to improve their job prospects. Fake degrees are sold by “diploma mills” or “degree mills” that use a number of deceptive tactics to convince people that the degrees are legitimate.
Diploma mills and degree mills have been around for a long time, but they became more common with the advent of the Internet, and they are especially attractive to people during economic downturns when job markets become competitive. Some people may believe they actually are buying real degrees, but most people likely know they are buying illegitimate degrees or diplomas.
The mills sometimes create websites to pose as legitimate academic institutions. Other times, they cite fake accreditation to appear as if they are legitimate institutions. They typically give credit for “life experiences” and require a small amount of coursework to give buyers the impression that they “earned” their degrees, even if the buyers likely know the degrees are fake.
Fake college degrees typically cost around $1,000 but can cost as much as $10,000 for PhD diplomas and other advanced degrees. While most degrees that are purchased are at the undergraduate level, approximately one-third of them are at postgraduate level as of 2015.