Police crack down on fake certificates trade
Shandong police preparing evidence against six suspects detained since last month on charges of making fake certificates by hacking into government websites are looking for people who have bought such fakes.
The certificates - mostly university diplomas and documents claiming proficiency in the national English and computer skills exams - correspond to information illegally entered on the authorities' websites.
Pang Jian , who heads the online-criminal crackdown team for the Jinan Public Security Bureau, was quoted by Xinhua as saying that the number of such hi-tech cases had been on the rise.
Of the six people in custody, one from Tianjin was allegedly in charge of attracting people into buying the certificates, four were responsible for hacking government websites and changing the databases, and the other made seals of state and provincial education departments and institutions as well as printing and shipping the documents to customers by courier.
Pang said the six people were based in five provinces, they communicated only online, and money was transferred to their bank accounts. A total of 500,000 yuan (HK$572,000) was found when they were caught.
In March, city police received a report that three state-run education websites had problems with their inquiry systems or had information showing that people who had actually failed tests or had never sat the tests had passed them.
Pang said that unlike previous false-diploma schemes, which came with forged seals, this gang had hacked into the authorised websites and added any information their customers paid them to input. 'With the help of high technology, what they did was invisible,' he said. 'It's hard to strike against and also to prevent this kind of crime.
'This kind of case is part of an increasing trend. Police will intensify the crackdown against this evil tumour in our society.'
The fake-certificate business is rampant on the mainland, with advertising on many cities' streets and many links on the internet.
One website, based in Shanghai and named China Talent Education Centre, claimed it 'had no problem' producing any state-owned institution's certificates because it had relations with the schools and education departments. A master's degree diploma from top-class Fudan University would cost 18,000 yuan, for which it would provide data input into the database and the diploma, and corresponding information on the websites of Fudan and the Ministry of Education, said the website's head, who gave only a surname.
'We can handle everything,' he said. 'Eighty per cent of our staff are retired from schools and education departments, and people at those organs also want more money besides their normal incomes. Everything you get is the same as students who have really studied there.'
Lu Ren , a researcher at the Shandong Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua that fake certificates were the result of demand in the cut-throat job market, in which people lacked requisite skills.
A wide web
The six suspects detained, who communicated only online, were based in this number of provinces: 5