Back to school season is here! Unfortunately, there’s a new fraud gang stalking the halls of Internet High: fake online GED exams and high school diploma websites. If you’re thinking about finishing your education, don’t let these bullies steal your lunch money.

Let Scambook be your teacher and learn the warning signs of alleged education rackets and judge for yourself whether you still want to hand your money over to an online high school or GED program.

Welcome to Diploma Mill Fraud 101.

Don’t Get Schooled by a Fake Degree

According to Scambook members, these sites invite you to take a free online test. If you pass, the sites claim, then you’ve earned your GED (general education development) certificate or your high school diploma. All you need to do is pay $200 or $250 and they’ll send you official documents like a transcript, certificate or diploma.

The US Census Bureau has reported that adults with a high school diploma or GED can earn an average $11,000 per year more than adults who never finished high school. When you look at that figure, a few hundred bucks sounds like a great investment.

The problem is that these online education programs are very misleading about their accreditation. If you use your documents to apply for a job or enroll at a university, there’s a good chance that you’ll discover your “GED” or “diploma” is nothing more than a piece of paper.

That’s because a majority of online high schools are actually fraudulent organizations known as diploma mills, which the U.S. Department of Education defines as “an institution of higher education operating without supervision of a state or professional agency and granting diplomas which are either fraudulent or because of the lack of proper standards worthless.”

These online high schools advertise that they’re accredited by a national education agency, but this agency is often made up, or it’s a sham organization where sites can simply buy accreditation without any kind of review.

Besides wasting your time and money on a worthless diploma, you could land in legal hot water if you earn your “degree” from a diploma mill. In some states, it’s against the law to use a GED or high school diploma issued by a falsely accredited institution.


5 Myths About Getting Your Online GED or High School Diploma

Myth #1: A GED Degrees and a High School Diploma are the same thing.  This is a common misconception. Although the GED is equivalent to a high school diploma, the academic requirements are lower. Some 4-year colleges and universities, as well as certain employers, may favor candidates with high school diplomas over GED holders. Many online diploma mills don’t clarify whether they’re offering GED degrees or high school diplomas. If you’re confused, cut class immediately and don’t return.


Myth #2: You can get your GED online. Currently, the GED exam is unavailable

online. There are many websites that offer GED practice tests and study guides, but the real exam is a registered brand similar to the SATs or the ACT. Don’t trust any website that’s offering an online GED exam, no matter how professional they appear. You can only take the GED exam at an official, certified testing location. To find out where you can take the GED exam in your region, visit


Myth #3: If a website address ends in .edu, they’re definitely a legitimate school. Today, .edu domains (e.g. are strictly regulated by the U.S. Department of Education. Educational institutions must apply and meet specific standards to be able to use this domain for their website and email addresses. Unfortunately, the requirements to get a .edu domain are relatively recent. Older online diploma mills may still retain their .edu. It’s also possible for hackers to spoof these domains.


Myth #4: Online high schools are accredited. As we mentioned at the top of this article, just because a website claims to be accredited doesn’t make them legit. There are many accreditation agencies that will certify anyone who pays them – according to, these agencies “may even use all the right sounding words in their marketing materials to describe their accrediting standards and review processes. When actually, those accrediting standards and procedures are never put to use and the accreditation is meaningless.” What’s more, there’s nothing to prevent a diploma mill website from simply lying about their accreditation. When you’re researching the school on Scambook and elsewhere on the web, make sure you do just as much homework about the accrediting agency, too.


Myth #5: You can earn your high school diploma in half an hour. Let’s say you find an online high school that doesn’t have any of the warning signs we’ve mentioned. They’re explicit about offering a diploma, not a GED certificate, there’s nothing fishy about their website, and their accrediting agency checked out. So you register for a free account and take the test to earn your diploma – and wow, it’s super short and super easy! Well, you don’t have to be on the drill team to realize that this is a huge, waving red flag. Finishing your education will require a lot of time and hard work. For instance, the real GED exam is administered in a 7 hour test session. If a website congratulates for finishing high school after a ten minute test, it’s a diploma mill. You’ll also know they’re a sham because “congrats” will be immediately followed by a request for your credit card info. (Real online education programs require you to pay your tuition fees upfront, regardless of whether you pass their exams.)



Other warning signs to watch for:

Basic spelling and grammar errors on the website, missing graphs or data in the exam (e.g. a math question that refers to a chart that isn’t on the site) and “Live Chat” customer service ads.

Study all these tips carefully. No, there won’t be a quiz later, but learn this information by heart so you can avoid falling victim to an online GED diploma mill. Don’t waste your hard-earned money for a worthless piece of paper and potential legal troubles.

Be aware that many online diploma mills will try to fool you with slick, professional-looking websites in addition to their bogus accreditation claims. They’re relying on the fact that you won’t think twice about their authenticity. But hey, you’re trying to finish high school, right? You’ve got to question their authority!

Always research a new website on Scambook before you give out any personal information or a credit card number.


See Also

Back to School Scam
Protect Your Child’s Privacy from Back to School Identity Theft
Are You Struggling to Pay Your Student Loans?

Image sources


34 Responses

  1. Tina

    Hi Miranda, do you have any suggestions of places I can get a genuine high school diploma online (with distance learning classes etc)? I’m immigrating to the US in August. I have permanent residency and have lived in the states before and I want to get my diploma to help with job seeking! Thanks 🙂

  2. Francesco

    Hi there,
    I need some information , regarding high school Diploma.
    I’m Italian actually I’m working in Dublin since 2011. Is it possible to get “Diploma” in English even if I’m Italian? And what do I need to do?
    Thanks 🙂

  3. Meranda

    I’m 28 years old and have been thinking about going to college to get a BSN in nursing. I got my GED when I was 17 and am wondering if there is any way I can still get my high school diploma to increase my chances of getting accepted into a nursing program after I do my prerequisites.

  4. How to Tell if an Online High School Diploma or GED® is Legitimate | eCollegeFinder Blog

    […] If a school seems too good to be true, it probably is. To earn your high school diploma, you’re going to have to work for it. Any school that offers you a diploma after a short and simple test probably isn’t legit. According to, many of these short tests will charge you* after you pass, while legitimate diploma granting sites will charge you up front (whether you pass or not). Check out what else Scambook has to say about earning your diploma online here. […]

  5. PaytonB

    I would like to know if Sandford high school and Nation high school are a scam.

  6. Desmond


    I recently took an online course and passed the exam, so they are now asking for about $100 in order to send the certificate. the site is, i need to know if they are legit before paying.

    thanks a lot

  7. S.a.khan

    Sir could u please tell me , kaplan/pheonix university are offering online degree to diploma holders within 15 day , at a payment of 200/600 dollar . How a person get a accredated bachelor degree online without classes( they are asking experience and diploma) is this type of accredated online bachelor degrees worth. Thanks

  8. Iris hernandez

    Hi Amanda

    Do you think lincoln hs academy is a scam??? It’s an online high school ???? Please help trying to get a diploma

  9. Kelley

    So how can a disabled person who can not sit through a 7 hour test due to health concerns get their high school diploma?

    Because of my disability I have been unable to get a diploma, Not because I cant do it, but because of these reules about sitting through a marathon testing session or sitting through classes for hours in a day. Why cant one do all this online?

  10. Vanessa Guidon

    Would you know any legitimate accredited
    online highschool(s)? It seems they are around $1.400
    and involve several tests. Is that right? That would be
    fine as long as it’s authentic. An answer would be

  11. Tee tee

    People please don’t waste ur money…..once u become of age; what I mean is Hs age and u don’t have high school credits there is no way u can get ur high school diploma.if ur diploma/GED is not from UR state it’s fake.There is a # too call when checking for Diploma credentials every state has 1.For my state is Albany….just for fun I called Automated service and it ask me for my S.S. DOB…don’t remember what else, but I heard what school I received the diploma and what year. So people please be careful. All of the sites that has been mentioned or schools names that has been mentioned above it’s fake you cannot receive your GED or high school diploma or once you receive your GED you cannot go back and get a high school diploma

  12. Diana

    Hello Miranda, i was wondering if you can tell me what accredited schools are there that are online please and thank you for yyour time reading this… 🙂 also i have question is lincolnacademy highschool online a accredited school? since it has a video that it came in the news saying they’re a homeschool..

  13. Eber

    I felt motivated to say thanks a lot Mrs. Perry, this is the first time that I can say honestly ” I read something useful about my concerns”. Your article is very helpful for all those who wish to obtain the valuable high school diploma or in defect the GED title. Thanks again for your sincere concern for the welfare of many. Sincerely E. S.

  14. Rod Clarkson

    Lncolnacademy highschool online is a huge scam. If you want a real high school diploma, it must be Regionally accredited by AdvancED, NCA/SACS/NWA. Schools like Excel High School, Penn Foster and Ashworth High School are properly accredited online schools that issue a real and valid, department of education recognized, high school diplomas. Don’t get scammed. Also check out the BBB.

      • Sean O'Connor

        Hi Selena, thanks for your comment. While I can’t comment on Penn Foster specifically, it’s best to do extensive research before enrolling. You don’t want to put in hard work earning your GED or diploma only to find out it’s not legitimate down the line. As always, better safe than sorry.

  15. Neyla Cantu

    Can you check Jefferson High School please it has the school code is 6580 please check it.

  16. Andrea

    Hello i am thinking about getting my GED and was told by a close relative that she herself obtained hers from i was wondering if anyone knows if this is a scam?

  17. Chris

    Hi, I’m 25, got my GED several years ago and so far it has been just fine, but recently I have started considering joining the local police Academy but they require at least a high school diploma and I was wondering if you could suggest a legit website where I can earn my high school diploma

  18. Edward T.

    Hi,I need to get my GED my job is telling me to get my ged or lose my job. I work 12 hours a day 6 & 7 days a week. And i have 2 kids. Need help to get this done for my kids and I .

  19. Shallon

    Hi im looking to see if a online school by the name of Penn Foster High School is legit. Their website is Your help would be much appreciated. Thank you for your time.

  20. homeschool diploma

    Thanks Miranda, for sharing these valuable information with us. There are lots of online diploma and GED sites which are offering these courses certifications. But many amongst these sites are fraud. So, before selecting any online institute, please be careful and do some research work on that.

  21. jasmin

    So is mchill high school a fake?
    My sister got her “diploma” from there but she paid like almost 500 dollars.
    Please tell me.

    • Wilson

      McHill is a fraud. I applied for a job and was almost laughed in my face for having this so called diploma. Most embarrasing moment in my life.

      • phillip curtis

        i was wondering if you could check out james madison high school.and thanks for being the solution not the problem people are trying to live honest but there being given lies thanks for this sit big ups my dude

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