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Report: #278658

Complaint Review: American World University -The World Association Of Universities And Colleges - Beverly Hills California

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  • Reported By: Jakarta Other
  • American World University -The World Association Of Universities And Colleges 400 South Beverly Drive, Suite 214 Beverly Hills, California U.S.A.

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The Most Successful Fraud in American History
by UIPM

Before I identify what has to be the most successful fraud in the history of the world, I should first define my terms.
Fraud: A deliberate attempt to deceive a targeted victim, so as to obtain something of value from him that would have been difficult to obtain, had the victim known the truth.
Success: Securing an advantage for yourself and your heirs that is almost impossible to lose, even under competitive conditions.

I offer the following criteria as characteristics of a successful fraud.

First, the perpetrator who designs the fraud and then executes it is subsequently hailed by the victims as a hero, a genius, and indispensable to their own well-being.

Second, the perpetrators must be bound by an oath of non-disclosure, which all of them keep until they die, yet which leaves no trail of paper for historians to discuss.

Third, the nature of the fraud is well known by critics, who tell their story in full public view at the time the fraud is committed, but a majority of the victims reject this story.

Fourth, the critics' negative assessment is forgotten over time, leaving the victims' heirs convinced that the original fraud was a great idea and well worth defending.

Fifth, anyone who discovers the true nature of the fraud cannot gain a hearing because the heirs of the victims dismiss him as a crackpot, either in general or else regarding this specific issue.

Sixth, the heirs of the perpetrators extract a growing percentage of the wealth of the heirs of the victims.

Seventh, the fraud must have a slogan, preferably very short, easily memorized, universally accepted, and devoid of content, just in case someone should try to sue the perpetrator or his heirs for the commission of the crime.

Eighth, the heirs of the victims then consent to the plans of the heirs of the perpetrators to extend the original fraud, whether by additional fraud or else force, to new groups of victims, who whose ancestors were not parties to the original fraudulent transaction.
Ninth, the heirs of the original victims pay all of the costs of this extension of the original fraud to a new generation of victims.

Tenth, the new generation of victims is then persuaded to bear a growing percentage of the costs of extending the fraud to still more victims.

Eleventh, the bulk of the net return on the extension of the fraud continues to flow to the heirs of the original perpetrators.

Twelfth, the process must go on for more than a century; two centuries are better.

There may be additional features of a successful fraud, but I think the presence of this dozen constitutes a highly successful fraud.

Can you think of a fraud in the world &American history that has these twelve, or even more? If so, you should draw up your case in writing and submit it for consideration to this site's editor, who loves a good fraud story better than silver. Tie it to a conspiracy, and he loves it more than gold. Get the government involved, and he cannot resist.

But you cannot match mine, for mine tops them all.
AND THE WINNER IS. . . .

Maxine Klein Asher and her unindicted co-conspirators (American World University, an institution which sells academic degrees, and the World Association of Universities and Colleges, an institution which "accredits" American World University, as well as other universities selling mail-order degrees which pay for accreditation by that body).
"In a posh apartment building in the Westwood neighborhood here, a fax machine hums behind the front desk, spitting out pages on distinctive green paper.

No one would guess that it's the hub of American World University, an unaccredited institution with more than 7,000 students around the globe.

Maxine Asher, who lives up on the fourth floor with one of her four secretaries, is its fearless leader. The faxes are essential because Ms. Asher doesn't know how to use a computer. She can't even answer her own e-mail. Instead, secretaries around the country handle various parts of her business, faxing her reports and copies of messages. She issues orders from her apartment, telling her employees what to write.

If American World were all that Ms. Asher ran, she would be an interesting bit player in her industry. But in 1993 she founded the World Association of Universities and Colleges, an accrediting service unrecognized by the U.S. Department of Education, that gives its imprimatur to a host of alternative institutions. Almost every day Columbus University and Lacrosse University, both of which are considered diploma mills by some government regulators, advertise in the back pages of USA Today. In bold type, they tout their accreditation from the association. That makes Ms. Asher a central figure in the shadowy world of unaccredited higher education.

Now in her 70s, she says she is so hampered by fibromyalgia, a painful syndrome, that she struggles to walk down stairs or put on a sweater. But she remains a supremely confident person, and a spitfire when it comes to defending herself against those who would malign her and her university."

"They're not quite the X-Men, but the small group of people doing battle with diploma mills might have come out of central casting. One is a former FBI agent. Another is a government bureaucrat. There's the former president of an unaccredited university. And there's the physics professor who is devoted to stamping out fake degrees. They've even given themselves a name and a logo right out of the comic books: the Carpmasters. (Get it? They're fishing for bottom-feeding pests.) Because no coordinated government effort exists to combat diploma mills, these compatriots have become the go-to experts on the subject."

"An accordion folder packed with documents is all that's left of Columbia State University. Inside are slick brochures ('Earn a college degree in 27 days'), a catalog that lists majors like computer science and hospital administration, and advertisements claiming that Columbia State has the same accreditation as Harvard and Yale."

"In a posh apartment building in the Westwood neighborhood here, a fax machine hums behind the front desk, spitting out pages on distinctive green paper. No one would guess that it's the hub of American World University, an unaccredited institution with more than 7,000 students around the globe. Maxine Asher, who lives up on the fourth floor with one of her four secretaries, is its fearless leader. The faxes are essential because Ms. Asher doesn't know how to use a computer. She can't even answer her own e-mail. Instead, secretaries around the country handle various parts of her business, faxing her reports and copies of messages. She issues orders from her apartment, telling her employees what to write. If American World were all that Ms. Asher ran, she would be an interesting bit player in her industry. But in 1993 she founded the World Association of Universities and Colleges, an accrediting service unrecognized by the U.S. Department of Education, that gives its imprimatur to a host of alternative institutions."

"It was a revelation rich in irony: A member of a college accreditation board holds a Ph.D. from a 'university' that sells doctorates to anyone with $1,500. This year The Chronicle reported that Michael Davis, a member of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, received his doctorate from Saint Regis University, which claims recognition from the government of war-torn Liberia and requires little, if any, academic work. He has since been booted from the board."

"Some say only those operations that offer degrees for money alone can be properly called diploma mills. Others broaden the definition to include institutions that offer degrees for money and a little work. One dictionary says a diploma mill is an unaccredited institution that 'grants degrees without ensuring that students are properly qualified.' The Council for Higher Education Accreditation, a private group that represents more than 60 accrediting agencies, says that while there is no single, agreed-upon definition, several indicators suggest that an operation may be a diploma mill: for instance, giving degrees for life experience, listing no faculty members, and claiming accreditation from a questionable accreditor."

"In your e-mail inbox, next to advertisements for cheap prescription drugs and unbelievably low mortgage rates, there are probably a few messages promising that you -- yes, you! -- can receive a college degree without ever cracking a book. Want a bachelor's? Can do. A master's? Sure thing. How about a Ph.D.? No problem. Call the telephone number in the message, listen to a well-crafted spiel, whip out your credit card, and within a few days a crisp new diploma will arrive on your doorstep. Congratulations! You are now a college graduate! This is not your father's diploma mill.

In fact, this is not like any diploma mill that ever existed. It is speedier and more sophisticated than its fraudulent predecessors. It is also more secretive and better at eluding the authorities. Best of all for the operators, it's the most profitable, generating millions of dollars each year. The granddaddy of such operations is the University Degree Program, which began operating in the mid-1990s. It offered diplomas from bogus institutions with names like the University of Wexford, Shelbourne University, and the University of Palmers Green. Last year, after an investigation by the Federal Trade Commission, its owners turned over $100,000 in profits and promised to stay out of the degree-selling business."

"One by one, thousands of brand-new graduates strode across stages this spring to receive a valuable document: a college diploma. It represents years of hard work and academic achievement. More important, lots of employers won't even consider an applicant who doesn't have a college degree. Thousands of other people will also receive college diplomas this spring. But for them there will be no robes or speeches, no mortarboards or ceremonies. Instead of walking across a stage, they will open a mailbox. What they find there may look like a real college diploma. But is it? Perhaps they simply completed a multiple-choice exam or described their life experience. Maybe they did no more than dial a telephone number and fork over a couple of thousand dollars. Either way their diplomas do not represent much, if any, achievement."

It was early 2003, and the newly created Department of Homeland Security was looking for someone to help oversee its vast computer network. The department soon found a candidate who appeared to be a perfect match: Laura Callahan. Not only had Callahan been working with federal IT systems since the mid-'80s, but she came with outstanding academic credentials: bachelor's and master's degrees in computer science, topped by a Ph.D. in computer information systems. In April 2003, Callahan was brought on as the department's senior director in the office of the chief information officer, pulling down a six-figure salary.

But Callahan didn't last long. A few weeks after her hiring, the Office of Personnel Management opened an investigation into her resum following the publication of articles questioning her degrees' provenance. It turned out that Callahan's vaunted academic achievements were anything but--all three degrees had come from Hamilton University, a now-defunct degree mill operating out of a former Motel 6 in Evanston, Wyoming, that claimed religious affiliation. In June 2003, she was placed on administrative leave. By the time she resigned, in March 2004, a new picture of Callahan had emerged: not a skilled IT executive, but an unqualified hack.

Degree mills differ, but all sell academic credentials for little or no work. So how was Callahan able to advance with three bogus degrees on her CV? Part of the answer may lie in the fact that Callahan insists she was scammed as well. One of the more elaborate degree frauds, Hamilton University (not to be confused with the well-regarded Hamilton College in upstate New York) "required" online coursework for her bachelor's and master's and a dissertation for her doctorate; while her work was never evaluated, from Callahan's perspective, the requirements made Hamilton seem legit. She had even checked to make sure Hamilton was an accredited university. And it was--by the American Council of Private Colleges and Universities (ACPCU), whose mission was "to establish and enforce strict academic, ethical, financial and evaluative standards." This was enough for her, and probably enough for anyone else who thought to casually check out the obscure institution. Alas, had Callahan gone a step further, she would have found that the ACPCU was, itself, a scam. Even its religious affiliation was but a means to skirt state laws. The ACPCU, she later wrote, "appeared to be run by the same people who operated the religious organization sponsoring the university. In other words, the accrediting body was an 'accreditation mill.'"

There are basically two types of students in the degree-mill world: those who are in on the scam, and those, like Callahan, who get scammed. But, for employers and the public, the difference doesn't really matter. Thanks to the growing importance of credentials for professional advancement and the ease of Internet access, the nation's 2,000-plus mills have become a $500 million per year business, according to degree-mill expert John Bear--and that means a growing number of people performing jobs for which they are untrained and unqualified.

That's one thing if the employees are just, say, managing a local business. It's quite another when they're responsible for national security.
In 2003, a deputy undersecretary for personnel and readiness at the Pentagon was outed for having a fake degree; he, too, insisted that he never suspected anything was wrong, because the school claimed to be accredited.

A 2004 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found 463 federal employees alone with degrees from three mills, including 28 senior-level employees at, among other places, Homeland Security and the National Nuclear Security Administration. The investigation found "a couple hundred people in the Department of Defense," says Alan Contreras, who oversees degree authorization for the state of Oregon. "They found so many that they simply decided it was not politically possible to do anything about it." Protecting the public from hacks will require not just a crackdown on the wayward students who acquire fraudulent degrees, but also a renewed push against the mills that supply them--which means going after fake accreditors as well.

People familiar with ivy-covered walls and cavernous lecture halls are often surprised to learn how massively the Internet has changed higher education. Thanks to high-speed connections, video cams, and free e-mail, there are few things you can get at a brick-and-mortar school that you can't find online. In many ways, this is a decidedly good thing, allowing thousands to afford and attend academic programs they might otherwise find inaccessible. And, on one level, it has also made it simpler to check up on a program's quality. Indeed, Bear, who co-wrote Degree Mills with retired FBI degree-mill expert Allen Ezell, says that awareness of potential academic frauds is way up, thanks to consumer activism and the ease of researching an institution online.

After all, it takes just a few clicks to see whether Adam Smith University, for example, is merely obscure or truly fraudulent. "With the arrival of the Internet, it's been possible for people to check out what is a real school and what isn't more rapidly," says University of Illinois Physics Professor George Gollin, who has spent several years compiling data on degree mills.

But mill operators have gone high-tech, too. Once the province of lone operators with printers on their kitchen tables and ads on matchbook covers, today's degree mills are slick websites, often complete with bios of nonexistent faculty, chat rooms, even .edu suffixes for their URLs. "The people running these things are getting more clever," says Bear. "It's big-time stuff, answering the needs of the market." And, of course, they've created their own accreditation bodies--though most are little more than Web pages citing rigorous, though undefined, accrediting "standards." Officially, accreditation bodies are approved by either the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a nonprofit whose mission is to watch the watchers, so to speak. But, unfortunately, neither Education nor CHEA has a monopoly on the use of the term "accreditation." Unlike terms like "free" and "low tar," there are no federal regulations on how "accreditation" is used. (The Federal Trade Commission has written guidelines for the term, but they do not have the force of law.) As a result, in recent years, some 200 fake accreditors have popped up.

Most accreditation scams resemble the ACPCU: fronts that exist solely to give cover to a particular degree mill. Take Breyer State University. It is licensed in Alabama; it has an affiliation with a shady medical-degree mill on the tiny Caribbean island of Montserrat; and it is operated by Dominick Flarey, who lives near Youngstown, Ohio. All of this should raise some red flags, but Breyer State has nevertheless "graduated" hundreds of proud students, many of whom were likely mollified by the school's seemingly sterling accreditation from the Central States Consortium of Colleges and Schools (CSCCS), an affiliate of the American Institute of Healthcare Professionals (AIHP).

Such innocuous, official-sounding titles likely prevent most students and employers from looking further; when they do, they learn that both the CSCCS and the AIHP are themselves fronts--and, like Breyer State itself, are run by Flarey. "It lets him fool people into thinking that his school has been properly evaluated," says Gollin. Flarey's accreditation subsidiary is convenient, because it is unlikely that any legitimate accreditor would approve of Breyer State awarding degrees for "life experience" or allowing students to "self-design" their own Ph.D. programs. (Flarey rejected the charge that Breyer State is a degree mill. "People can call us a diploma mill; that doesn't make it so," he says. "Some will say any school that isn't accredited is a degree mill. But accreditation is a voluntary process.")

Then there are people like Maxine Asher. An elderly resident of the posh Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, Asher has run her own degree mill, American World University, since 1990. (Once incorporated in Iowa, it now operates out of Pascagoula, Mississippi.) But, in 1993, after repeatedly running up against potential students demanding credentials, she hit on the idea of creating her own accreditor, the World Association of Universities and Colleges. (In an interview, Asher denied that American World was a degree mill and said she was the victim of hostile state regulators.) But, rather than simply accrediting American World, Asher realized she had another revenue stream on her hands. And so, for $1,500 (on top of a $1,000 membership fee), she offers to "accredit" other schools based on self-evaluations; "accredited" schools then pay a $3,500 annual membership fee. Today, the World Association claims to have 69 members, 40 of which are "accredited." "People realized that's a whole profit center in itself," says Bear.

Because the demand for employees with academic credentials is only going to increase, the government needs to take steps to ensure the verification of those credentials. But, despite the alarm raised by Callahan's degrees and the GAO report, little has been done to crack down on degree and accreditation mills. In 2004, Senator Susan Collins held hearings on whether federal money was being spent on degree-mill courses, but her hearings attracted little attention; at times, she was the only senator present. And, while the Department of Education has created a database of accredited schools and accreditors, the system has at times been rife with errors. Meanwhile, in 1991, the FBI shut down its successful anti-degree mill operation (known as DipScam) when its director, Ezell, retired. Overall, the feds' efforts have been "limited, poor, and inefficient," says Contreras. "It's a low priority for everybody."

But, as Callahan's case makes clear, it should be a priority. It's hardly in the national interest to have unqualified people overseeing security-related computer systems and Pentagon personnel. And, yet, some of the biggest concentrations of fake degrees are in crucial departments like Homeland Security, Defense, and Energy. While the GAO study identified more than 450 fake-degree holders in the federal government, it noted the numbers could be much higher. "We believe that the agencies are not able to accurately determine the number of their employees who have diploma mill degrees," wrote the authors.

The problem extends well beyond the Beltway. In recent years, countless doctors, teachers, and even college and university executives have been exposed for having fraudulent degrees. There's the Florida fire department training commander caught last year with a degree in fire science from Suffield University, a mill "accredited" by the bogus National Distance Learning Accreditation Council. Ten teachers and a principal in Georgia were caught with fake degrees from the now-defunct St. Regis University. And, in 2002, a North Carolina doctor with a fake medical degree was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and practicing without a license for taking a child off insulin, killing her. "If you don't want bridges designed by people with fake degrees and children going to doctors with degrees from some unknown Caribbean island, we need as a society to protect the degrees that provide those credentials," says Contreras.

To their credit, some degree mills, such as Breyer State, acknowledge that their accreditation is not officially recognized. But they, in turn, exploit the lack of enforced standards by noting, "There is no mandate by federal law for a School, College, or University to be accredited. ... [Each accreditor has their own unique standards and, thus, there is no national consistency in institutional accreditation." This is, to put it nicely, extremely disingenuous, leading applicants to assume that accreditation from Breyer State's CSCCS is as good as that from a federally recognized body. And, until the feds get serious about accreditation, degree mills like Breyer State and American World will continue to scam students, employers, and the government itself.

Law
Jakarta
Asia

This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 10/14/2007 01:29 AM and is a permanent record located here: https://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/american-world-university-the-world-association-of-universities-and-colleges/beverly-hills-california-90212/american-world-university-cq-maxine-klein-asher-and-her-unindicted-co-conspirators-the-w-278658. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year. Ripoff Report has an exclusive license to this report. It may not be copied without the written permission of Ripoff Report. READ: Foreign websites steal our content

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#3 Consumer Comment

American World University is a Positive Contributor to the Global Education System via Distance Learning

AUTHOR: Challenger - (Kenya)

POSTED: Saturday, February 21, 2009
I have read the many criticisms against Dr Maxine Asher and American World University. In my opinion, they are unfair and injurious without proper justification.

My reasons:
1. American World University is not a diploma mill, you have to complete and pass academic assignments, during which you can fail and be discontinued.
2. I know of at least one case of discontinuation, during which remedial language courses were reccomended.
3. American World University and Maxine Asher, do not sell diplomas/degrees, in fact I made a request for a certain course, which was turned down - I am still in possession of the emails! Only upon availability of tutors, was a new course I suggested accepted.
4. American World University to the best of my knowledge is accredited in not less than one country.
5. Most of the Criticism in this article, refers to many other universities which are not American World University and have nothing to do with Dr. Maxine Asher.
6. The United States of America is lagging behind Cuba in Education, because of its current educational structure - not everyone can stop working to attend UCLA, Havard, Stanford etc, let alone afford them.
7. The claims filed against American World University and Dr Maxine Asher on Ripoff report, do not meet the minimal requirements for a criminal or civil complaint in the United States of America or elsewhere - they are simply unfair and injurious to AWU and all those affiliated with it.
Respond to this report!

#2 Consumer Comment

American World University is a Positive Contributor to the Global Education System via Distance Learning

AUTHOR: Challenger - (Kenya)

POSTED: Saturday, February 21, 2009
I have read the many criticisms against Dr Maxine Asher and American World University. In my opinion, they are unfair and injurious without proper justification.

My reasons:
1. American World University is not a diploma mill, you have to complete and pass academic assignments, during which you can fail and be discontinued.
2. I know of at least one case of discontinuation, during which remedial language courses were reccomended.
3. American World University and Maxine Asher, do not sell diplomas/degrees, in fact I made a request for a certain course, which was turned down - I am still in possession of the emails! Only upon availability of tutors, was a new course I suggested accepted.
4. American World University to the best of my knowledge is accredited in not less than one country.
5. Most of the Criticism in this article, refers to many other universities which are not American World University and have nothing to do with Dr. Maxine Asher.
6. The United States of America is lagging behind Cuba in Education, because of its current educational structure - not everyone can stop working to attend UCLA, Havard, Stanford etc, let alone afford them.
7. The claims filed against American World University and Dr Maxine Asher on Ripoff report, do not meet the minimal requirements for a criminal or civil complaint in the United States of America or elsewhere - they are simply unfair and injurious to AWU and all those affiliated with it.
Respond to this report!

#1 Consumer Comment

American World University is a Positive Contributor to the Global Education System via Distance Learning

AUTHOR: Challenger - (Kenya)

POSTED: Saturday, February 21, 2009
I have read the many criticisms against Dr Maxine Asher and American World University. In my opinion, they are unfair and injurious without proper justification.

My reasons:
1. American World University is not a diploma mill, you have to complete and pass academic assignments, during which you can fail and be discontinued.
2. I know of at least one case of discontinuation, during which remedial language courses were reccomended.
3. American World University and Maxine Asher, do not sell diplomas/degrees, in fact I made a request for a certain course, which was turned down - I am still in possession of the emails! Only upon availability of tutors, was a new course I suggested accepted.
4. American World University to the best of my knowledge is accredited in not less than one country.
5. Most of the Criticism in this article, refers to many other universities which are not American World University and have nothing to do with Dr. Maxine Asher.
6. The United States of America is lagging behind Cuba in Education, because of its current educational structure - not everyone can stop working to attend UCLA, Havard, Stanford etc, let alone afford them.
7. The claims filed against American World University and Dr Maxine Asher on Ripoff report, do not meet the minimal requirements for a criminal or civil complaint in the United States of America or elsewhere - they are simply unfair and injurious to AWU and all those affiliated with it.
Respond to this report!
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