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Are Essay Mills committing fraud? 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 deal with the application of Essay Mills as well as 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 have been calls for the utilization of legal methods to tackle the issue. Here we determine whether the UK Fraud Act (2006) might be used to tackle a number of the activities of companies providing these types of services into the UK, by comparing their practises that are common and their Terms and Conditions, using the Act. We found that all of the sites examined have disclaimers regarding the usage of their products or services but there are lots of obvious contradictions in those activities of the sites which undermine these disclaimers, for example all sites offer plagiarism-free guarantees for the job and also at least eight have advertising which generally seems to contradict their conditions and terms. We identify possible areas when the Act could be used to pursue a case that is legal 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 those companies into the UK, even though principles might 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 source of controversy and debate within advanced schooling, particularly into the last decade. ‘Contract cheating’ refers, basically, to your outsourcing of assessments by students, to third parties who work that is complete their behalf in substitution for a fee or some other benefit (Lancaster and Clarke 2016). These services offer ‘custom assignments’ of almost any form, although custom written essays appear to be the most typical. Students tend to be able to specify the grade they need (although there isn’t any guarantee this is delivered), request drafts, referencing styles and virtually any other custom feature (Newton and Lang 2016). Read more »