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Parents Warned to Beware of Enrollment Fraudsters

China Daily, September 2, 2013 Adjust font size:

Colleges should do more to help tackle scams relating to enrollment in higher education, providing more transparent enrollment procedures and updating their websites in good time, prosecutors and judges have said.

With some colleges still enrolling students into September, prosecutors warned parents not to take chances and risk falling into traps set by fraudsters accepting money for enrollment in fake institutions.

Prosecutors in Beijing said the number of such cases has grown in recent years.

In the capital's Haidian District, which has nearly 70 colleges and many high-tech enterprises, prosecutors have dealt with 79 cases involving enrollment and employment fraud between 2010 and May 2013, involving more than 30 million yuan (US$49,050), according to statistics provided by the Haidian District Procuratorate.

The number of cases has risen swiftly, from 11 in 2010 to 32 last year, according to the procuratorate.

Among these cases, 39 were related to the gaokao — the college entrance exam — while the total amount of money involved was around 16.8 million yuan, according to procuratorate figures.

Zeng Jingyin, a prosecutor in the district, said that one new trick to appear over the past two years involves companies falsely registering as educational institutes and accepting candidates for enrollment.

"These fake educational institutes usually have attractive names. They are often registered overseas, with complete paperwork, but in fact, they have no qualification to enroll students. They are banned, in line with laws on the Chinese mainland," Zeng said.

Such tricks are difficult to detect because fraudsters show educational materials to students, parents or others who doubt them, and most people with little legal knowledge are unable to identify anything wrong, she said.

In 2012, a man surnamed Cai allegedly registered a company posing as a military medical college in Hong Kong and took more than 240,000 yuan from nine students over a period of two months, according to a statement from the procuratorate, which said the case is now going through court.

Other cases involved fraudsters who claimed they had "connections" with people in military and art colleges, she said.

Some parents fell for the ruse because the academic scores required for enrollment were low and the quotas on student numbers were flexible, leading them to believe their children had a good chance of being accepted, she said.

Last year, one fraudster was sentenced to 10 and a half years in prison after promising one student a place in a military college, cheating the student's mother of 600,000 yuan.

There is a market out there, said Xin Zuguo, a judge specializing in tackling enrollment fraud cases in Chaoyang District.

"Some parents, eager to send their children with low grades to good universities, are willing to take such chances, even though they never heard of the school before," he said.

Du Weijin, 45, whose daughter participated in the college entrance exam this year in Shanghai, said some parents place their trust in people claiming to have "connections" because they have heard of some successful cases.

The safest way would be to contact the universities' official websites, as well as communicating more with children's teachers, she said.

Kong Lingming, a high-school graduate in Henan Province, said that he has been contacted by enrollment fraudsters, and that such practices are common in his home town.

"The cheaters first ask us whether we are enrolled or not. Then they spend several hours trying to persuade us to accept their 'favor', saying the employment rate for graduates is very high, aiming to attract those whose grades are unlikely to get them into college," he said.

Such offers look especially attractive to students who are blindly searching for colleges and those who do not work hard but have high hopes, the 18-year-old said.

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