Jefferson High School Online was a non-accredited, illegitimate online school that authorities charged with selling fake high school diplomas. The company was one of several that were part of a multi-million dollar diploma mill scam.
In September 2014, after finding that the alleged diploma mill had collected over $11 million selling fake diplomas since 2006, the Federal Trade Commission shut down the organization and froze all assets. Jefferson High School Online claimed that an individual had the ability to earn an official diploma in lieu of a traditional GED. To obtain the diploma, students paid between $200 and $300 in fees and were granted access to an online multiple-choice test. Students who tried to use the diploma as part of a college, military or job application process received rejections due to invalid diplomas.
The FTC asserts that there are many legitimate online schools providing real courses with valid diplomas; however, diploma mills only give the appearance of a legitimate educational program. Signs of an illegitimate high school program include ads indicating a flat fee for a degree, little course work, no interaction with teachers, and the ability to earn a degree in weeks or days. Additionally, the FTC encourages those interested in finding a legitimate course to verify the school is accredited as well as to search online reviews and the Better Business Bureau's site for the organization's name and rating.