Fraudulent degree certificates are available at a range of prices Ellie Matthews

The University of Cambridge has told Varsity that it plans to take action against an eBay merchant selling fake PhD degrees over the Internet.

The seller, who claims the authority to dispense degrees from the ‘United Global Royal Church & Institute (USA)’, but who is based in Düsseldorf, offers customisable PhD accreditation certificates printed on high-quality 250gsm paper.

The seller, who has a 100 per cent positive feedback rating on eBay, markets the fraudulent degree certificates at £25.

The name, date awarded, and the subject on the fake doctorates can be customised, including a range of unusual subjects from Agricultural Sciences to Visual Arts.

Many of the degrees offered as customisable options are not genuine courses. The names and titles of the signatories on the degree certificates are also faked, listed as ‘President’ and ‘Secretary’ of the university.

Cambridge is not the only institution whose name is being illegally used in this way. The seller offers counterfeit degrees from a range of other British and American universities, including Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford.

It is thought that there is a sizeable business worldwide based on the production and sale of counterfeit degree certificates. Earlier this year, the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD), a government body tasked with ensuring the integrity of degrees awarded by British universities, began investigating a Chinese website selling fake degree certificates using the names of a number of UK universities.

At the time, HEDD spokesperson Jane Rowley stated that the Chinese seller was “breaking the law in a number of countries”.

She also claimed that degree fraud of this sort can damage the reputation of higher education institutions.

Investigating the trend, BBC Radio Kent found certificates on sale over the Internet for £500.

The HEDD has warned recent graduates not to publish photographs or scans of their degree certificates on social media, in order to make it more difficult for fraudsters to reproduce them.

In a statement released to Varsity, a university spokesman thanked us for bringing the matter to the university’s attention and said: “We will take action against this seller.”

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