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Chinese Websites Sell Fake Hong Kong University Diplomas Even Experts Cannot Detect

Hong Kong University (by Adon3465 via Wikimedia Commons)

Chinese websites sell fake diplomas of major Hong Kong universities that even experts cannot recognize as forgeries.

According to Hong Kong-based newspaper HK01, there are a large number of websites in mainland China that sell fake diplomas of Hong Kong's eight major universities.

An HK01 reporter asked Chong Yiu Kwong (莊耀洸), a Solicitor and Teaching Fellow at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, and Alexa Chow (周綺萍), a Human Resources Consultant, to examine two diplomas. One was a fake 2017 bachelor's degree in business administration from Hong Kong University (HKU), which the journalist had purchased from a Chinese website for 1,200 RMB. The other one was a real 2014 diploma from HKU.

Both Chong Yiu Kwong, who is also a HKU alumnus, and Alexa Chow mistook the fake one for authentic. Ms. Chow explained that there are is no standard for how diplomas should look like. Their layout, colour, size and paper quality may vary depending on the university and the year they were issued. Mr. Chow stated that the only way for employers to make sure job applicants provide authentic credentials is to contact universities to verify whether diplomas are genuine. Both Mr. Chong and Ms. Chow agreed that the fake diploma seemed to have better quality than the real one.

Under Section 73 of Hong Kong's Crimes Ordinance, "using a false instrument" is an offence liable to imprisonment for 14 years. Hong Kong Police statistics do not list using a false instrument as a separate crime, but include it in the broader category of "deception." In 2017, 7,091 crimes of deception were committed.

Companies selling fake academic credentials are known as diploma mills. According to Ejinsight, diploma mills have a big market in mainland China and Hong Kong because of the crucial role education plays in Chinese societies. In June Chinese state-run People's Daily published a list of 392 diploma mills. 

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