Saturday, November 11, 2006

Conviction caps major play in dud NZ degrees

Saturday October 14, 2006By David Eames
The conviction this week of Auckland forger and fraudster Rebecca Li has shut down a major player in the blackmarket for fake degrees and documents but police can only guess the extent of her offending.
The 35-year-old owner of Grey Lynn-based Reddix Productions spent seven years forging university degree certificates, stamps and official seals.
Hong Kong-born Li also produced fake tax invoices, fake driver licences and fake immigrant stamps, then sold them for up to $5000 apiece.
Former Asian Crime Squad detective Jimmy Jin yesterday told the Weekend Herald it was likely that numerous fake qualifications were still in circulation, but how many was anyone's guess.
The degree certificates - from numerous institutions - were likely destined overseas but scores of International English Language Testing System certificates could be used to help foreign students hoping to work or study in New Zealand.
And Li was good at it.
"I think Rebecca Li is the major manufacturer of those [types of] documents," Mr Jin said. "To be able to make those documents you need quite an in-depth knowledge of computers and programmes."
Li has a computer science degree from Auckland University, a real one.
Mr Jin said Li's services were advertised by word of mouth or through discreet placements in The Mandarin Times, but her work did not come cheaply.
She would charge about $1500 for a university degree, sold through a middleman who was free to add his own mark-up.
A fake driver's licence was worth around $300, while one man is understood to have paid $5000 for a phoney IELTS certificate.
The scale of Li's business has left Auckland University shaken.
Registrar Tim Greville said Li's offending was the first example of organised, professional forgery here.
The mass production of fraudulent degrees and other university certificates was "a major corrosion" of university credibility and he urged would-be employers to verify qualifications by checking student records.
Massey University deputy vice-chancellor Nigel Long reiterated Mr Greville's comments.


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