n. A fake degree from an existing university or college; a degree from a non-existent university or college.
All the Web sites claim to provide "novelty" degrees for entertainment purposes only, in an effort to protect themselves from lawsuits and criminal charges, said Pierre-Yves Boucher, secretary of the University of Ottawa.
On the site, customers can buy, for $ 50 apiece, diplomas from any colleges they want — including the University of Nebraska, whose "diploma" graces the Web site's main page. The Web site's order form requires customers to sign a statement saying that they will not misrepresent their "novelty" degrees as being the real thing.
FBI Special Agent Otho A. Ezell Jr. said in a sworn statement that he first noticed an ad for customized degrees and transcripts in the Globe, a tabloid newspaper, last September. He sent a letter requesting information to the Tampa post office box listed. He received a price list and specifications for ordering just about any kind of "novelty" degree, except law and medicine. "Hamilton High School" or "Stanton University" degrees were advertised for $ 79.50 or two for $ 99, while customized degrees from other schools cost more, up to $ 270 for a doctorate. Specialized college seals cost an extra $ 25.