CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A diploma mill named Charleston State University claimed the identity of the University of Charleston, offering degrees for a fraction of the cost it takes to earn one from a four-year college.
Anyone can purchase a degree without ever stepping foot inside a college classroom. The school sells bachelor, master and doctorate degrees for $350, $400 and $450 and can be mailed to anyone at any address in just over one week. Free shipping is included.
Charleston State University does not exist. The school claims they have a rich history in the Kanawha Valley dating back to its founding in 1888 when it was called Barboursville Seminary, which is untrue.
The university website also states that in 1901 it was renamed Morris Harvey College “out of appreciation for a conspicuous benefactor,” which is another lie.
University of Charleston officials were shocked to hear someone who has such broken and confusing English would steal their identity, especially history that is sacred to the university.
“It’s bizarre. You read about individual identity theft, but to have an institutional identity theft is another step up the ladder,” said Dr. Ed Welch, president of UC.
The school says it is located at 9200 University Boulevard in Charleston, S.C., but it is actually the location for a private Baptist college.
Welch said UC is exploring their options with how they should handle the situation. He said they tried emailing the host of the Charleston State University website to ask for a cease and desist, but may have to take a formal legal action against them.
“People have access to the Internet and are able to place on the Internet almost anything they want, so it’s challenging and frustrating,” said Welch.
Welch said the website host refrained from giving out any information about the fictitious university. He said if you ask them the wrong questions or try to ask how many students they have, they won’t say unless you’re a “registered student.”
“One wishes there were some truth finding meter that could be used to curve the practice and make sure people are not fooled and don’t lose money,” said Welch.
Welch said UC is waiting to hear back from Charleston State before acting further on the issue.