On January 25, 2023, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and our law enforcement partners launched a multi-state coordinated law enforcement action to capture individuals engaged in a scheme to sell false and fraudulent nursing degree diplomas and transcripts. The enforcement action resulted in the execution of search warrants in Delaware, New York, New Jersey, Texas, and Florida, and 25 individuals being charged for their involvement in the fraud scheme. More than two dozen individuals have been charged in the Southern District of Florida for their alleged participation in a wire fraud scheme that created an illegal licensing and employment shortcut for aspiring nurses.
The alleged scheme involved the selling of fake and fraudulent nursing degree diplomas and transcripts obtained from accredited Florida-based nursing schools to aspiring Registered Nurse (RN) and Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse (LPN/VN) candidates. The individuals who acquired the bogus nursing credentials used them to qualify to sit for the national nursing board exam. Upon successful completion of the board exam, the nursing applicants became eligible to obtain licensure in various states to work as an RN or a LPN/VN. Once licensed, the individuals were then able to obtain employment in the health care field. The overall scheme involved the distribution of more than 7,600 fake nursing diplomas and transcripts. The following schools that issued the fake diplomas and transcripts schools are now closed.
- Siena College – Broward County, FL
- Palm Beach School of Nursing – Palm Beach County, FL
- Sacred Heart International Institute – Broward County, FL
CHAP suggests that organizations proactively review the education for all nurses on staff to ensure they do not have practicing nurses with diplomas/transcripts from any of these schools. Organizations should only employ professionals who furnish services directly, under an individual contract, or under arrangements who are legally authorized/licensed in accordance with applicable Federal, State and local laws. Nurses who have not been educated by legitimate accredited nursing schools do not have the proper training and skills to care for patients in any healthcare setting. This is not only a compliance issue, but a patient safety and quality of patient and family care issue.
View the OIG’s 2023 Operation Nightingale Enforcement Action