Safety engineers at nuclear power plants, biological weapons experts, NATO headquarters officials, Pentagon employees and workers at nearly every other federal agency — all hold degrees from phony schools, according to a report by CBS News.

"These degrees aren't worth the paper that they're printed on," says one insider, who asked CBS News to protect his identity.

The man worked at a so-called diploma mill where students pay a lot of money to get a degree online or through the mail for little or no work.

And he's not surprised to learn that people are working at almost every level of government with these bogus degrees on their resumes.

But using such a degree is a crime in some states. Alan Contreras cracks down on diploma mills for Oregon, a state that's taken the lead on this issue, according to CBS News.

"You don't want somebody with a fake degree working in Homeland Security," says Contreras. "You don't want somebody with a fake degree teaching your children or designing your bridges."

But CBS News uncovered employees with diploma mill degrees at the new Transportation Security Administration, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Departments of Treasury and Education.

"The students are being sold a bill of goods that really don't help them at all," the insider says. "There are slick people out there, and it's happening every day, every minute probably somewhere in America."