What Are Some Legal Implications of Buying a Degree Online?

As of 2015, buying a degree online from so-called "degree mills" is illegal in an increasing number of states, notes CounterfeitDegrees.com. The federal government has little involvement in regulating the sale and purchase of counterfeit degrees via the Internet, delegating legislative responsibility to individual states to punish offenders. Among them, Oregon is frequently considered the most effective at tackling the problem, notes GetEducated.com.

In Oregon, people who are caught trying to use a counterfeit diploma to gain employment they would be otherwise unqualified for may be sentenced to a maximum of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine as of 2015, states GetEducated.com.

Another state that has taken proactive measures to tackle the diploma mill problem is North Dakota. In 2003, the state made the manufacture and sale of counterfeit diplomas illegal. Businesses that break this law within the state face jail sentences and up to $25,000 in fines, notes GetEducated.com. In North Dakota, however, individual consumers who purchase and attempt to use counterfeit diplomas for employment are only charged with a misdemeanor.

While some other states, including Maine and Wyoming, have also introduced bans, legislation pertaining to the sale and use of counterfeit degrees is lacking in most. This is attributed to a combination of tight budgets and more urgent issues in need of state legislative attention.