Are Essay Mills fraud that is committing? An analysis of the 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 deal with the application of Essay Mills and other ‘contract cheating services that are students. These services generally offer bespoke custom-written essays or other assignments to students in return for a fee. There has been calls for the utilization of legal approaches to tackle the problem. Here we determine whether the united kingdom Fraud Act (2006) might be used to tackle a few of the activities of companies providing these services when you look at the UK, by comparing their common practises, and their Terms and Conditions, with all the Act. We unearthed that most of the sites examined have disclaimers about the utilization of their products or services but you can find contradictions that are obvious those activities of the sites which undermine these disclaimers, for example all sites offer plagiarism-free guarantees for the task and also at least eight have advertising which generally seems to contradict their conditions and terms. We identify possible areas where the Act might be used to pursue a legal case but overall conclude that such a method is unlikely to work. We call for a offence that is new be created in UK law which specifically targets the undesirable behaviours of these companies within the UK, although the principles could possibly be applied elsewhere. We also highlight other UK approaches that are legal may become more successful.


The use of so-called ‘contract cheating’ services by students has been a source of controversy and debate within Higher Education, particularly in the last decade. ‘Contract cheating’ refers, basically, into the outsourcing of assessments by students, to third parties who complete focus on their behalf in return for a fee or some other benefit (Lancaster and Clarke 2016). These services offer ‘custom assignments’ of almost any form, although custom written essays seem to be the most frequent. Students tend to be in a position to specify the grade they need (though there is not any guarantee this will be 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 severity with which universities penalise the use of contract cheating services (Newton 2015). Perhaps the simplest arrangements are directly between students and essay that is‘custom companies’, many of whom are ‘listed’ companies with sophisticated advertising campaigns. However there are numerous ways in which students may use third parties to complete work for them, because of the contract spread across continents; writers may behave as freelancers, employed in a different country to your student and their institution. These freelance writers could make use of online auction services to promote and organise their work and these could be in still another country, and there may be another intermediary; someone who receives your order through the student and then posts the task on an auction site (Newton and Lang 2016; Sivasubramaniam et al. 2016). Thus you will find multiple actors in contract cheating, more than one of whom could be liable if their actions violate what the law states; students, their universities, the persons tuition that is paying, writers, those who employ writers, web sites 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 evaluation to make credit towards an award is normally required to do this from the explicit basis that the submission is the own work that is independent. Ideally, both students and staff are given guidance by what constitutes academic misconduct and the results of such misconduct (Morris 2015), in a fashion that promotes an optimistic, constructive approach to fostering ‘academic integrity’ (Thomas and Scott 2016). If a student submits work this is certainly shown to comprise, in whole or perhaps in part, material that’s not their very own independent work then that student will normally face a range of penalties, administered by their university, for academic misconduct. In britain these usually include cancellation of marks for the relevant module or perhaps the relevant element of the module at the mercy of any mitigating circumstances (Tennant and Duggan 2008). Historically, these behaviours have not been dealt with through legal mechanisms in the united kingdom (QAA 2016) and also this pertains to plagiarism outside academic circumstances which, when you look at the words of Saunders,”. is not in itself illegal; it is only illegal if it breaches an established legal right, such as copyright, or offends contrary to the law of misrepresentation or any other legal rules” (Saunders 2010).

However, a widely used test to make legal decisions is always to figure out how a ‘reasonable person’ might view a behaviour that is particular. If asked to describe the purchasing of essays for submission for the purposes of gaining academic credit it seems logical to close out that an acceptable person would conclude that such behaviour is ‘fraudulent’, particularly given the language associated with it (e.g. ‘cheating’). If another individual has knowingly assisted for the reason that activity then they might reasonably be thought to have assisted, conspired or colluded this kind of academic fraud, cheating or dishonesty.

If a student has purchased written work from another individual or a business for the intended purpose of passing it well as his / her own work then it’s clear that the student commits academic misconduct, but what associated with individual or company that supplied the job in return for payment? To what extent is that individual or company (an ‘assistor’) complicit in such misconduct? What is the liability that is potential of assistor and that can action be used against them? Will 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, can there be the alternative of fraudulent behaviour in the relationship amongst the student while the company?

Broadly, legal wrongs committed in England and Wales can be addressed through the civil or law that is criminalUK Government 2016a). An action in civil law is taken by a individual that is wronged their initial cost. This cost can be prohibitive as well as normally requires the formulation of a claim recognised because of the law that evidences loss or problems for the claimant that is individual by the defendant as well as for which a remedy is sought. Thus the power of educational institutions (or a student for that matter) to take civil action against assistors is limited.

Action in relation to UK criminal law is normally undertaken by and at the price of their 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 of the principles that are basic be followed by Crown Prosecutors when they make case decisions. Crown Prosecutors should be satisfied there is enough evidence to provide a “realistic prospect of conviction” and therefore it’s the public interest to follow a prosecution (UK Government 2013).

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

The Quality Assurance agency, considered all approaches to deal with contract cheating, a problem which they stated “poses a serious risk to the academic standards and the integrity of UK higher education” (QAA 2016) in August 2016 the UK regulator of Higher Education. Their consideration of possible legal approaches under existing law concluded that the Fraud Act was the “nearest applicable legislation”, but they failed to reach a strong conclusion on its use, stating that “Case law generally seems to indicate a reluctance from the area of the courts to be engaged in cases involving plagiarism, deeming this to be a matter for academic judgement that falls outside of the competence associated with court (Hines v Birkbeck College 1985 3 All ER 15)” (QAA 2016).

In their conclusion, the QAA suggest that buy essay the UK 2006 Fraud Act is “untested in this context”. Here we explore the detail associated with the Fraud Act further, and compare it to your established business practises of UK-registered essay-writing companies, with a particular concentrate on their conditions and terms.