According to federal authorities, up to 7,600 persons in the US may be utilising fraudulent nursing qualifications obtained through a system organised by Florida nursing schools that sell certificates.
The Justice Department has accused staff members and owners of three accredited institutions, Palm Beach School of Nursing, Siena College, and Sacred Heart International Institute, of selling 7,600 diplomas and transcripts to applicants for licences and positions as registered nurses, practical nurses, and vocational nurses.
Although the buyer would not have received a nursing licence as a result of the phoney credentials, they would have been eligible to take the national nursing board exam. Only after passing that test could they obtain their nursing licence.
However, candidates might have avoided “hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of clinical training” with the use of the fake degrees and transcripts, which could cost up to $15,000 each, according to Markenzy Lapointe, the US attorney for the Southern District of Florida.
According to a statement from the Justice Department, “recruiters” would contact prospective buyers and plan with staff members, supervisors, or owners at the schools to produce and disseminate the false paperwork.
Prosecutors claimed that although the buyer never took lessons there, the diplomas would indicate that they had attended the appropriate school’s nursing programme.
A total of 25 people are accused of participating in the plan and are each facing up to 20 years in jail if found guilty of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy.
According to officials, all three schools have been closed. Broward County is home to Sacred Heart International Institute and Siena College. Palm Beach County is home to the Palm Beach School of Nursing.
According to Chad Yarbrough, an acting special agent for the FBI in Miami, “what is troubling about this investigation is that there are over 7,600 people around the country with counterfeit nursing credentials who are possibly in important health care roles treating patients.
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