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Academic Misconduct and Extortion: A Tangled Web That Ensnares Students, Part II

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Feb 02, 2022 | 0 Comments

We've discussed academic misconduct and extortion[1] in the past. Now, however, cases of academic misconduct are multiplying for two reasons. First, it's easier and perhaps more tempting to get help with papers and exams in the remote learning model. Second, as the Covid pandemic rages on, anxiety and fear about the future are ratcheting up students' desire to get good grades—sometimes at any cost.

Of course, it's not just students who are experiencing unprecedented pressures. Understandably, everyone at universities and colleges—from deans on down to adjunct instructors—is feeling increasingly frustrated by increasing instances of institutional cheating.

Why Colleges Are Cracking Down

When students use contract cheating to acquire the right answers or avoid doing the necessary research, faculty members feel that the very purpose of their job is being thwarted. The point of college courses, they argue, is not to get good grades. It's to learn about the subject in question as well as to develop crucial critical thinking skills that will serve a student for their lifetime.

As a result, schools take academic misconduct very seriously. A student accused of cheating, whether they have used a paper-writing service like an essay mill, hired a stand-in to take an online test for them, or plagiarized someone else's work, will face rigorous investigation by an internal board or committee.

There's generally a hearing at which the student can mount a defense of their actions, but what many people don't realize is misconduct hearings aren't like a criminal trial, in which defendants are considered innocent until proven guilty. The disciplinary process is often swift, punitive, and permanent. Students stand to lose a lot. They can be suspended or dismissed, the misconduct will be reflected on their permanent record, and they could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition and student loans. 

Even lesser sanctions such as probation can result in significantly diminished candidacy for various academic and professional opportunities.  Students found responsible unfortunately can face closed doors to internships, graduate and professional programs, such as medical school, law school, and so forth, in addition to professional and government employment, iincluding service in the military as an officer.  In sum, everything can be at stake.

Blackmail: An Unexpected Consequence

Once a student has paid for a paper, turned it in, and received a grade, they may think they're in the clear. But increasingly, this less-than-honorable action comes back to bite them in the form of blackmail. Remember that the essay mill has all the information they need to report the student's misconduct to their professor or administrators. They often have no compunction about contacting the customer, even months after the unscrupulous transaction, to demand more money.

Another scam involves targeting students who turn to online forums asking for academic help or requesting information about essay mills. The scammer, often posing as a fellow scholar, sends the student an unsolicited sample essay. Later, they threaten to expose the student's alleged misconduct if they don't pony up money for the “sample.”

Plenty of perpetrators even go so far as to mock up an email from the cheating collegian's school administrators or misconduct board, stating that the student is suspected of plagiarism or cheating and that an investigation is underway. It's just another way to ramp up the fear factor and force the unsuspecting victim to pay an exorbitant amount to stop the extortion.

Accused of Academic Misconduct?

If you have been accused of academic misconduct by your college or university, don't take another step until you enlist legal help. It's all too easy to make things worse by attempting to defend yourself on your own. You need someone who has experience in student misconduct defense, someone like the attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the team at the Lento Law Firm. Call 888-535-3686 to talk about your situation and get the help you need.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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