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State accuses Texas school of selling fake diplomas

Although Parkview Home School of Houston apparently employed no teachers, it allegedly sold high school diplomas and transcripts to over 40,000 customers since 1994, according to a lawsuit filed by the Texas Attorney General's Office. Documents filed in Harris County district court alleged that the company illegally marketed its diplomas to Texas consumers in violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act.

State investigators said that Parkview charged between $200 and $300 for a diploma and transcript. Customers received two workbooks with tests that included answer keys. When they sent back completed materials, they were given high school diplomas.

Because no educational training occurred, investigators said that community colleges, employers, trade schools and universities did not recognize the diplomas. The investigation also revealed that Parkview encouraged its customers to say they were home schooled on applications to colleges. Customers who made these claims on financial aid applications potentially exposed themselves to criminal penalties for actions that Parkview told them to do.

Charges of fraud could result in criminal records for the owners or corporate officers of a company if a conviction results. An attorney familiar with fraud cases could advise a person in such a company about how to launch a defense in court. White-collar crimes like these tend to be complex. A criminal defense attorney might need to review extensive company records in order to show a court that it complied with the law. After a review of company records, an attorney might be able to challenge some or all of the criminal charges and negotiate with a prosecutor to have charges lowered or dismissed.

North Dallas Gazette, "Texas files fraud charges against 'Diploma Mill'," April 20, 2015

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