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Posted 2009-05-06 19:14:32
Whenever I read a thread that starts with “My friend has a problem...” or “I know someone who…”, I am tempted to write “Cut the crap and start again using the first person!” So this is about me.
First of all, a bit about myself - I left school with GCE ‘O’ levels and ‘A’ levels which included English Language and English Literature. Very few of my generation went straight from school to university and I can’t remember anyone from my year that did. I went into nursing and have over 20 post-nominal letters after my name.
I settled in Thailand in 2002 and my nursing qualifications counted for nothing – nursing, when I qualified, was not a degree subject in the UK
Two of us from the same TEFL school found employment in a school in Nawamin, Bangkok and neither of us had a degree! We were advised by senior staff there to get fake degrees and then we would be able to get work permits and teacher’s licences which were duly issued. I left the school in 2004.
Fast forward to last Monday ( 4th), my extension based an marriage to a Thai would be approved for one more year and as my wife works not too far from there, she decided to go and leave me at home. Immigration phoned me at 1 o’clock to tell me that I have to go in person to sign a few papers; I thought that we had signed everything on the first visit! I phoned my wife and said that I would meet her there.
After waiting for about an hour, we were ushered up to the 5th floor (Immigration Police) where I was accused of using a fake degree – there’s no point in lying about it, is there?
So at about 5pm, I found myself in the Immigration Detention Centre in one cell with about 80 other odds & sods of various nationalities, no bedding and only a hard floor to try and sleep on. Tuesday (5th) was a holiday so my appearance in court would have to be today. I appeared before the court this afternoon and the case is being investigated further. I am now out on bail. The best result that I can hope for is a small fine and told to go back to England for a new visa.
I know there are others who have worked or are still working with fakes and I was told by Immigration Police that they are actively investigating over 60 more cases. I left that school 5 years ago so you have been warned.
Posted 2009-05-06 20:30:09
Thanks for sharing your story, it is a very sobering lesson. Like you I am of the generation for whom getting a Degree was highly unlikely. I started work at 13 'up at mill' though I still managed to study part time and earned some 'O' levels. But the idea of going to University was beyond my wildest dreams. Something only for the Rich. Being able to go had nothing to do with intellect or aptitude, in those days it was purely about money and family contacts.
So far here in Thailand I have simply refused to 'pretend' to be a Graduate, and so earn far less than I could. However I am still 'illegal' since I cannot get a Licence, proper Visa or Work Permit. I persist simply because my Thai wife begs me to. Though she has lived in the UK she wants to be Home in Thailand now that we are both Geriatrics.
Anyway Thanks again. Can I please suggest you consider posting the same information in other Forums. Such as on TEFL.net, or Ajarn.com ? I know it will be beneficial to others considering taking the same risks.
Best Wishes. I sincerely hope it all works out relatively painlessly.
Edited by AjarnChan, 2009-05-06 20:31:21.
Posted 2009-05-06 22:46:26
Can you elaborate on how Immigration had your Degree to check?
You stopped teaching 5 years ago... Or at least left the school that gave you the Work Permit.
Did they go that far back to check?
Did you submit it with your last Extension package?
Are you still teaching with a WP now?
A little clarification would be helpful.
Posted 2009-05-06 23:24:51
I do not think that I have the full information yet but as far as I know
The school in question reported me to the police last year, why? This is just supposition on my part; they were being investigated and offered me and possibly others as 'plea bargaining chips'.
I do not know how far back they are checking
No, I have been on a marriage extension so have not submitted it for my last few extensions
I have been retired for three years now so do not need a work permit
Posted 2009-05-07 08:01:31
Wow. What an interesting read.
Basically, if you have used a fake degree once, no matter how long ago, it could come back to haunt you...
If you left that school 5 years ago, and this has just recently happened, it sounds like, like you said, you have been used as a scape goat; 'plea bargaining chips'.
Posted 2009-05-07 08:12:17
Scary but very interesting news. Many thanks for alerting us, Mr. Hippo- and yet another good reason to tell everyone: DON'T USE A FAKE DEGREE in Thailand. It's not absolutely necessary and it's not safe.
Good luck and let us know how things turn out, Mr. H. I hope your relatively cooperative behaviour will help you to come back soon. In this case, I would also suggest that you immediately (as if by coincidence) list the school in our "Schools You Wouldn't Recommend" to a friend so we can spread the word to ALL of our friends not to work at that school.
Sadly, I suspect they will get away with only minor penalties for the crime of conspiring with you to commit fraud.
Posted 2009-05-07 09:46:20
I understand that it's the school's responsibility to check the authenticity of qualifications and as they make the application for the work permit, then surely they are the ones committing an offence and not you. However, this is Thailand and we know that law and regulations are interpreted at the discretion of an individual police/immigration/labour officer.
Do you know if the school paid tax on your behalf to the revenue department? This may be the reason why they are being investigated.
Was it a fake degree from KSR or was it a life experience degree off the internet?
Anyway, good luck.
Posted 2009-05-07 10:12:43
It is surprising that the Immigration had a copy of the degree, maybe you presented it to them at the beginning, or as others have implied the school got into trouble about Taxes, and the tax people checked everything. However, would the immigration police phone the University that was given on the Fake degree, I doubt that. I think the school admitted to telling you to get a fake degree, as they had not paid tax for you, even though you had the work permit. Then the tax office informed Immigration. And then they came for you.
I think others will be found out soon.
I worked at a University here in Bangkok, and it was their job to check my degree before I was issued a work permit. Most schools are too lazy to do so.
By the way please let us all know how you get on, and all the best, hope that you do not have to leave, but if you do that your return is quick and unproblematic.
Posted 2009-05-07 20:38:42
Some years back it was not necessary for the school to check the degree--and it was rather hard. The MOE accepted/rejected the degree. Then they put out a regulation (2years ago?) that all degrees had to be verified. Since then, we have checked all degrees. Several years ago, it was quite difficult to check them--a lot of schools were slow to respond--some very slow and always asking for more and more information.
Now, most Universities--at least the ones in the US--use a clearing house and it takes a matter of hours to get a verification on a relatively recent degree. Some of the older degrees take 3-5 days.
The MOE has sharpened their eyes though. In a routine visit to our school, they looked at the degrees and pulled one out and said it was a fake. It turned out it was. We then went through the degrees and found several that were suspicious--things like the same signatures, but a different school. None of those teachers are currently with us. I wasn't involved in the hiring of any of those teachers, but they represented themselves as University graduates and even talked about how much they were worth. A couple of them were very good teachers--one wasn't.
Of course the first thing they did was list the name of our school on the "wouldn't recommend thread." I was a bit miffed because we did everything in our power to ease their transition out of the school. Full benefits, given the option of completing their contract etc. My experience since has not to be as nice to those presenting suspect degrees.
Posted 2009-05-10 11:10:16
It's just got me wondering how long the Thai authorities are required/in practice keep paper records for. About 3 years ago I was given a work permit(not for teaching) and they said they wanted to evaluate the situation - so they gave me 1 month. I had to apply again and instead of just giving say some updates I had to supply all the paperwork over again and you know how many rainforests had to be felled for that little lot - as in a new request - which they subsequently denied. It just got me thinking that there must be mountains of paperwork somewhere in the country if they keep them as you say for 5 years and probably more.
As an aside I wonder if your situation came to light after say 10 or 15 years whether the statute of limitations applies.
Please keep us updated about the outcome.
Keeping my fingers crossed for you.
Posted 2009-05-10 13:56:17
I have an appointment with the probation officer on Tuesday. We rescheduled it fron last Friday as my wife had a business meeting and would not be able to attend as my translator.
Mrs Hippo spoke to the family lawyer and he seems to think that it is a good sign that I was not sentenced straight away.
I am not prepared to name the school in the BangKapi area yet. The English department that I was in had as its head a very small, religious, non-Thai, little woman who had a few habits that she changed every day. To most people she is like a Sister. No rather not mention the name yet, I may get sent to Perpetual hel_l.
Posted 2009-05-10 14:15:59
At least some good news.
Nice hints, taken on board, someone on TV is asking about directions to that School.
Posted 2009-05-10 14:30:38
Err, OP knowingly submitting fake degree is fully responsible for his actions. This being Thailand he might have some hope of getting away with this. Be it US or UK he would have been deported already without any hope in getting back.
Seems that we need also "teatchers you would not recommend to a friend" forum here in Thaivisa naming and shaming dishonest teachers the same way schools are named here.
Posted 2009-05-10 14:47:53
Thanks for being Honest and up front Mr Hippo.,,,,,
And I really hope everything works out ok for you.
In the UK it could have brought charges of Fraud and gaining money by deception.
Edited by colino, 2009-05-10 14:57:23.
Posted 2009-05-10 14:54:47
MJo, Mr Mippo was honest until the 'Sisters' made him dishonest. Lots of Thai Buddhist schools do the same.
Posted 2009-05-10 15:20:55
I commented post that suggested that the school has broken the law not the OP. IMHO this is not the case.
But yeah i know and really wish he will not get burned too bad on this. However OP was the one who decided to submit the fake. It's no excuse that someone "recommended" it or told "it's ok". Surely he has been aware that it is against the rules to falsify your credentials for WP application and that there is trouble expected if getting caught by immigration or labour department. It can be considered the same offence as working without a work permit and he might be in deep sh*#.
I screen and employ engineers in regular basis and any indication of fake credentials will result rejection of the applicant and remark in our global databases. Strick company policy and rightly so. When handling confidential information and our company's reputation in line i would not trust nor employ a person who presents fake degrees in first place. I also would assume any respectable school would act the same way upon finding out you have a history with fake degrees.
Anyways, those in teaching business take note of OP's post and think twice before submitting fakes.
Posted 2009-05-10 15:26:14
When I first came to Thailand, about 15 or so years ago, many people suggested I obtain a fake degree to teach English. I never once contemplated it. To each his own. It reminds me of when I was in the fifth grade, and I was caught shoplifting. My mother asked me why I did it, and I told her my friends told me to do it. She then asked the old parental standard, "So, if they asked you to jump off a cliff, would you do that too?"
The OP is doing those who are thinking about it a service by telling his story. For those who have already done it, it's probably too late. Who knows though.
Edited by mbkudu, 2009-05-10 15:29:31.
Posted 2009-05-10 16:29:59
MJo, I have already admitted that I have done wrong – ignorance of the law is not an excuse – but are you trying to say that the school is blameless? They also submitted documents knowing them to be fake and they knew the law.
The English writer, Leslie Poles Hartley, wrote “The past is a different country; they do things differently there…” Well. I am from that country. I was brought up to respect and obey peop"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there", le in authority – parents, police, doctors, teachers and even other adults. It was a case of ‘do it and then ask questions’! Don’t even try asking the puerile question, ‘If someone asked you to kill….?’
I think when it happened that I had been in Thailand for about 4 months – did you know everything in such short a time. Have you or anyone you know ever bribed a police officer? You can dress it up by referring to it as ‘tea money’ but it is still bribery – a very serious offence in the UK! What was your first reaction when you were told that it is alright? Were you surprised and amazed when it worked? Now, who told you to do it? Was it a friend that you trusted? Did you even bother to check with the police that it was the usual custom? Did I have any reason to suspect that the school was being untruthful?
Posted 2009-05-10 16:36:56
It's Mr.Hippo and I think he is being honest. Good luck MrH.
Posted 2009-05-10 17:07:47
What you may have done was wrong, but you took the advice of a place that should not have been intentionally misleading you. The school has done worse IMO.
MJo must not have heard of the 'When in Rome..."' saying. I think it also applies in Thailand. When in Thailand, do as the Thais... To bad the Thai who told you what to d ostabbed you in the back. No harm in shaming the school
Edited by aussiestyle1983, 2009-05-10 17:10:04.
Posted 2009-05-10 17:15:38
I don't believe in the old saying; especially here. Some good advice I got from an Aussie friend who's been here awhile: It might be better to do what they expect you to do, and not what they do. Would you walk around wearing a wife beater rolled up below you nipples, a string of Buddha amulets around your neck, and a coin wedged inside your ear? Probably not in most cases.
Edited by mbkudu, 2009-05-10 17:16:48.
Posted 2009-05-10 17:21:37
When the only folks in authority, here in Thailand REFUSE to obey Thai law, those Thais deserve imprisonment, far more than the foreigners they lied to. Since the Thais do not get punished, neither should farang.
Posted 2009-05-10 17:29:41
That's a good one. I wish reality was this nice.
Posted 2009-05-10 20:34:11
You have a lot of people who are not qualified to be in an administrative position--and I am talking about Farangs. These are the ones who quite often 'advise' people to get a fake degree. I certainly wouldn't advise anyone to break the law--I was told by the head of English when I first started and needed to get my visa that it wasn't necessary, I could just pay an overstay. I was very clear, that I was not overstaying my visa. They said they needed me to work and they would pay the overstay--answer 'no' . I was next told my pay would be deducted if I took a visa run, I said "OK."
People need to take responsibility for their actions and unless a school tells them where to go, or pays for it or other such things which would amount to being an 'accomplice' to a crime, it would be pretty hard to prosecute them.
I understand the feeling of people on this, and I certainly sympathise with Mr. Hippo--and others who did so at a time when it was a reasonably common practice, but it's essential people take responsibility for their own actions.
We need to bring a little bit higher standard of behavior in the field of education and just because the "Thais do it", doesn't mean we should. Are these the kind of people we want teaching children? Is this how we show them right from wrong?