The hunting season for nurses with a fake academic diploma (FAD) opened during late-January 2023. Based upon early (end of February) statistics, 26 nurses with a FAD were nabbed in Delaware, 22 were found in Georgia, Washington state bagged 150, and single finds were made in New York, Maryland, and Ohio.1 All of these captured nurses with FADs held RN/LPN/VN licenses. Thousands more nurses with FADs remain to be found. The hunting season for nurses with FADs has no closing date.

Hunting season?

On January 25, 2023, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida released the report: Fraudulent Nursing Diploma Scheme Leads to Federal Charges Against 25 Defendants.2 The report identified that “more than 7,600 fake nursing diplomas were issued by three South Florida-based nursing schools.” About 2,400 of the FADs were used by holders to pass nursing licensing exams.

The reason for the nurse FAD hunt should be obvious. The health and safety of patients is paramount. The competence of the FAD holder must be questioned but there should be no question that the FAD holder is nearly ethically bankrupt. Employer liability and reputation is on the line. The reputation of the whole nursing community is on the line. Can one-third of people really pass a U.S. RN/LPN/VN licensing exam without a college degree? The U.S. healthcare system is tainted by nurses with FADs. No question, we are in a find and fix hunting season for nurses with FADs.

How could this happen?

If you think that this is an isolated problem based upon three schools in Florida looking to make a fast buck (people paid $114 million for the nursing FADs) then you are part of the problem. If you think this is a problem isolated within the nursing community and its faults have little impact on your role in OHS then you are part of the problem. 

It’s the George Santos thing, lies are being readily accepted today.3 Rep. Santos was elected to the U.S. House this year. Santos claimed to hold a B.S. degree from Baruch College and an MBA from NYU. Santos says now that he never attended any college. Santos didn’t even bother to get paper FADs. He just lied. About 142,000 NY constituents voted for Santos. Either there was no vetting of his academic claims, or New Yorkers just don’t care about academics among their representatives in Congress. But one lie leads to another, then another, and another. Santos remains as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives at the time of this writing.

Erosion of trust

Based upon a 2022 Gallop poll, just 7% of Americans have “a lot” of confidence in Congress, an all-time low.4 Keep up the Santos thing and I expect the numbers will fall even further. The same poll finds that only 38% of Americans have a lot of confidence in the U.S. medical system, an all-time low. If stakeholders do not aggressively address the nursing FADs, then confidence in our nation’s medical system is likely to plummet, too. Erosion of trust has many negative consequences, such as conflict e.g., get a lawyer when health care services are perceived as unsatisfactory and not exceptional.

How big is the problem?

Seven thousand and six hundred (repeat that number a few times) FAD cheaters among just three criminal acting schools. Tip-of-the-iceberg? It’s not the raw numbers that should be most bothersome, however. Someone pursuing a nursing occupation should have a good moral compass and caring personality. Thousands of people seeking a nursing occupation while using extremely poor and short-sighted decision-making, as demonstrated by their FAD choice, should greatly disappoint most reasonable people.


Allied occupations, such as OHS, have problems too. I met an FAD seller at a safety conference many years ago. The person was manning a booth marketing OHS credentials e.g., certified this and registered that, to attendees. I was aware of who he was based upon my research in FADs in the OHS field. He was the former president of a “university” that sold many FADs, before the business was shut down under the government’s Operation DipScam.5 He had a FAD doctorate, too. When I asked him if the OHS credentials, he was marketing, were as fake as the university he once headed up, he responded,     “Son, I was in the Korean War, you can get hurt talking like that!” I retell this meeting every so often to remind some OHS pros, that not everyone engaged in the OHS field has a good moral compass and caring personality. The OHS credentials the FAD “doctor” helped sell years ago, remain prominently sold today.

False statements of fact

The 2012 U.S. Supreme Court case, U.S. v Alvarez 6, describes lies as “false statements of fact.” The court ruled in Alvarez that people may legally lie, provided the act is not done for fraudulent reasons or financial gain. 

For example, when I experienced years ago that OHS leadership turned a blind-eye to people holding a FAD PhD along with one of the leading OHS credentials, I promptly earned my PhD in chemistry from Boston Harbor University. If you want to become part of BHU’s alumni, visit the link 

Today when I meet a person with an FAD, I demand that the person address me with the “doctor” title based upon my FAD PhD from BHU. Like Santos, however, many people today cannot be shamed into doing the right thing and relinquishing their FAD.

Is there a fix?

The Alverez court provided the following comments:

  • Government suppression of speech can make exposure of falsity more difficult, not less so.
  • The best test of truth is the power of thought to get accepted in the competition of the market.
  • The First Amendment itself ensures the right to respond to speech we do not like, and for a good reason.
  • Society has the right and civic duty to engage in open, dynamic, rational discourse.
  • The remedy for speech that is false is speech that is true.

The fix for people lying should begin with a quick rebuke by stakeholders. Truth should counter what’s false. Thousands of people obtained nursing FADs. Is it not plausible that tens of thousands of stake holders were aware that a scam was being pulled – but stayed silent? 


The nursing community is expected to go into reputation management mode. OHS leadership should take more than a cursory look at whether they are vulnerable, or have turned a blind-eye, to FAD and credential scams that may damage the OHS community’s reputation.