Are Essay Mills fraud that is committing? An analysis of their behaviours vs the 2006 Fraud Act (UK)

International Journal for Educational Integrity volume 13, Article number: 3 ( 2017 ) | Download Citation

Many strategies have already been proposed to handle making use of Essay Mills along with other ‘contract cheating services that are students. These services generally offer bespoke custom-written essays or any other assignments to students in return for a fee. There has been calls for the use of legal ways to tackle the difficulty. Here we determine whether great britain Fraud Act (2006) may be used to tackle some of the activities of companies providing these services in the UK, by comparing their common practises, and their Terms and Conditions, with all the Act. We discovered that all the sites examined have disclaimers regarding the utilization of their products but there are contradictions that are obvious the activities associated with the sites which undermine these disclaimers, as an example all sites offer plagiarism-free guarantees for the work as well as least write my paper eight have advertising which generally seems to contradict their terms and conditions. We identify possible areas when the Act could possibly be used to pursue a legal case but overall conclude that such an approach is unlikely to be effective. We call for a offence that is new be created in UK law which specifically targets the undesirable behaviours of the companies in the UK, even though principles could be applied elsewhere. We also highlight other UK legal approaches that may be more successful.

Introduction

The use of so-called ‘contract cheating’ services by students has been a way to obtain controversy and debate within advanced schooling, particularly when you look at the last decade. ‘Contract cheating’ refers, basically, to the outsourcing of assessments by students, to third parties who complete work on their behalf in return for a fee or other benefit (Lancaster and Clarke 2016). These types of services offer ‘custom assignments’ of almost any form, although custom written essays appear to be the most typical. Students in many cases are able to specify the grade they need (although there is no guarantee this is delivered), request drafts, referencing styles and just about any other custom feature (Newton and Lang 2016). Services available are quick and cheap (Wallace and Newton 2014) and students underestimate the severe nature with which universities penalise making use of contract cheating services (Newton 2015). Perhaps the simplest arrangements are directly between students and ‘custom essay writing companies’, a lot of whom are ‘listed’ companies with sophisticated advertising campaigns. However there are lots of ways in which students can use third parties to work that is complete them, aided by the contract spread across continents; writers may behave as freelancers, doing work in a different country into the student and their institution. These freelance writers could make utilization of online auction services to promote and organise their work and these may be in just one more national country, and there could be another intermediary; a person who receives your order through the student and then posts the job on an auction site (Newton and Lang 2016; Sivasubramaniam et al. 2016). Thus there are multiple actors in contract cheating, more than one of whom may be liable if their actions violate the law; students, their universities, the persons paying tuition fees, writers, those who employ writers, the websites which host the writers, advertising companies, those who host the advertising, and so on. Here we focus primarily on UK-registered companies that are essay-writing.

Across education, a student who completes an assessment to make credit towards an award is generally needed to do this in the explicit basis that the submission is the own work that is independent. Ideally, both students and staff are given guidance in what constitutes academic misconduct and the results of these misconduct (Morris 2015), in a manner that promotes a positive, constructive approach to fostering ‘academic integrity’ (Thomas and Scott 2016). Then that student will normally face a range of penalties, administered by their university, for academic misconduct if a student submits work that is shown to comprise, in whole or in part, material that is not their own independent work. These usually include cancellation of marks for the relevant module or the relevant component of the module subject to any mitigating circumstances (Tennant and Duggan 2008) in the UK. Historically, these behaviours have not been dealt with through legal mechanisms in the united kingdom (QAA 2016) and also this applies to plagiarism outside academic circumstances which, within the words of Saunders,”. is not if it breaches an established legal right, such as copyright, or offends against the law of misrepresentation or other legal rules” (Saunders 2010) in itself illegal; it is only illegal.

However, a commonly used test in creating legal decisions would be to regulate how a ‘reasonable person’ might view a particular behaviour. If asked to describe the purchasing of essays for submission for the purposes of gaining academic credit it seems logical to close out that a fair person would conclude that such behaviour is ‘fraudulent’, particularly because of the language related to it (e.g. ‘cheating’). Then they might reasonably be said to have assisted, conspired or colluded in such academic fraud, cheating or dishonesty if another individual has knowingly assisted in that activity.

If a student has purchased written work from another individual or an organization for the true purpose of passing it off as his / her own work then it’s clear that the student commits academic misconduct, exactly what of the individual or company that supplied the work in substitution for payment? As to what extent is the fact that individual or company (an ‘assistor’) complicit this kind of misconduct? What’s the potential liability for the assistor and can action be used against them? Would be the assistors by their action inciting academic fraud? An educational institution cannot normally take action against the assistor under internal disciplinary procedures unless the assistor is a student in the same institution. In addition, and maybe more to the point, is there the possibility of fraudulent behaviour into the relationship between your learning student in addition to company?

Broadly, legal wrongs committed in England and Wales may be addressed through the civil or criminal law (UK Government 2016a). An action in civil law is taken by a individual that is wronged their initial cost. This cost is generally prohibitive and also normally requires the formulation of a claim recognised by the law that evidences loss or problems for the individual claimant caused by the defendant and for which an answer is sought. Thus the capability of educational institutions (or a student for instance) to take civil action against assistors is limited.

Action pertaining to UK criminal law is normally undertaken by and also at the cost of the state through the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) but requires a criminal offence to own been committed (private prosecutions at private cost are possible but relatively rare). The Code for Crown Prosecutors sets out the basic principles to be followed by Crown Prosecutors when they make case decisions. Crown Prosecutors must be satisfied there is evidence that is enough provide a “realistic prospect of conviction” and therefore it will be the public interest to follow a prosecution (UK Government 2013).

An objective of this paper is to assess the extent that a small business organisation who supplies an essay or written work upon instructions from a student in return for money may be liable underneath the criminal law of England and Wales for an offence underneath the Fraud Act 2006 (The Act) (UK Government 2006). The Act commenced operation on 15 January 2007 because of the Fraud Act 2006 (Commencement) Order 2006 SI 2006/3200. The Act applies to offences committed wholly on or after 15 2007 and extends to England, Wales and Northern Ireland january.

In August 2016 the UK regulator of Higher Education, the Quality Assurance agency, considered all approaches to cope with contract cheating, an issue which they stated “poses a serious risk to your academic standards while the integrity of UK higher education” (QAA 2016). Their consideration of possible legal approaches under existing law determined that the Fraud Act was the “nearest applicable legislation”, but they would not reach a firm conclusion on its use, stating that “Case law seems to indicate a reluctance from the part of the courts to be involved in cases involving plagiarism, deeming this to be a matter for academic judgement that falls outside of the competence regarding the court (Hines v Birkbeck College 1985 3 All ER 15)” (QAA 2016).

The QAA state that the UK 2006 Fraud Act is “untested in this context” in their conclusion. Here we explore the detail of the Fraud Act further, and compare it into the established business practises of UK-registered essay-writing companies, with a focus that is particular their Terms and Conditions.

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