With internships an important part of course work for many students, the business of fake certificates is booming.
The Ministry of Education requires internship to account for at least 30 percent of credit hours, and colleges typically ask students to take up internships for a few months to prepare for their future careers.
But for just 200 yuan (US$30) or less, students can get whatever internship certificate they like online.
On e-commerce website Taobao.com, you can find many items by searching for “internship certificate.” Some sellers even tout “tailor-made” internship certificates “providing all necessary stamps of any company of your choice.”
One agent, “Yibaifen,” told reporters a certificate would cost 49.9 yuan. “You can choose any type of company in any city.” The agent then sent the stamp of a well-known Beijing-based IT company and claimed it was “real” because he “has connections.”
Some agents even promise to take follow-up calls from colleges. One told reporters he was “on call 24-7.”
“I put my own phone number on the certificates, so if your teachers call about your internship, I can handle them.”
Another said he had the genuine stamp of a Beijing advertising company and paid it commission for each stamp he put on certificates.
However, the company’s general manager denied knowledge of the scam, saying there were strict rules about the use of its stamp, and that the agent’s stamp must be fake.
Xiao Mo, an undergraduate in Xuzhou in east China’s Jiangsu Province, said she had bought a fake internship certificate online. Her college had “strict demands” on internships, she said, but she did not have the time for one as she needed to prepare for graduate school. “Besides, my teachers probably won’t check the authenticity of the certificate, so it should be no problem.”
Li Jiaxing, deputy head of the University of International Relations, said buying fake certificates was immoral.
“Colleges need to be credible,” Li said. “Anyone caught purchasing fake certificates should be regarded as cheating and be punished accordingly.”
Qu Wenyong, of Heilongjiang University, said the government should be dealing with the agents. “E-commerce websites are also to blame for being platforms for illegal businesses,” he said.