Justice Department officials shut down a massive criminal network that was selling thousands of fake nursing credentials.
The DOJ said deep-pocketed nursing students paid for bogus credentials from accredited schools in order to obtain RN licenses.
The federal government said the scheme involved 7,600 fraudulent nursing degrees from accredited nursing schools.
The GM told ABC News that the massive fraud endangered the health and safety of patients.
“It’s probably one of the most brazen schemes I’ve seen. And that is mind-blowing,” Omar Perez Aybar, Special Agent in Charge, told ABC News in an exclusive interview.
Investigators spent weeks sifting through more than 10,000 nursing school records to determine whether students had actually completed coursework.
“As we started going through them, we noticed that there were no real courses taken by individuals – it was just a money mill,” Aybar said. told ABC News.
Federal law enforcement officials have alleged that individuals in leadership positions at nursing schools “recruit students seeking nursing credentials for employment as registered nurses ( RN) or Licensed Practical Nurses (RPN/VN)”.
Aybar said the co-conspirators distributed fake “diplomas and transcripts” to misrepresent that the aspiring nurses had completed the program and taken the courses necessary to receive a degree, when “in fact, the aspiring nurses had never taken the necessary courses and clinics.
Nursing students have paid up to $10,000 — and sometimes more — for fraudulent credentials, Aybar said.
“For them, it was worth the investment or the risk,” he said.
Aybar said nursing schools and hospitals have been contacted to weed out fraudulent nurses. But the wheels of justice turn slowly.
He encouraged good nurses to report their fellow nurses and report them to federal authorities.
“I encourage those of you – if you are in a [clinical] and you have someone who maybe doesn’t practice by the standards as you understand it, maybe if you see something, say something,” he said.