In the period from 2002 to 2006, total of 132 diplomas were rejected on grounds of not being valid. Most of them come from Bulgaria and Albania, while to lesser extent from Kosovo and Serbia. All these cases are directed to the competent bodies i.e. the Ministry of Interior.

  Xhelal Neziri, Macedonia Kristina Petrova, Bulgaria Admirina Peci, Albania   Republic of Macedonia is flooded with fake academicians, who mostly obtain their diplomas from universities in neighboring countries. The affair of falsified diploma was revealed in 2002, when the School of Economics within “Ss. Kiril and Metodij” University found numerous forged diplomas. The affair is not yet closed. Although several channels for diploma trafficking were intercepted and cut, this profitable “business” is continuously growing, being a great challenge for state institutions. The forged diploma mainly come from Bulgaria and Albania because Macedonia has signed bilateral agreements on mutual recognition of diplomas, the low fee requested by the “intermediaries” as well as political connections and closeness to some parties from the country with Sofia and Tirana. There are only rare cases of buying diploma from some local universities, because of the high price and fear that someone might find out about the forgery. HOW TO GET DIPLOMA WITHOUT MUCH EFFORT?   The local commentators say there are two channels to get diploma: the one of the diploma smugglers and the political channel. The Macedonian citizens who want to get diploma without being students, usually find people with connections from the university to the Ministry of Education. The illegal activity on diploma forging is narrowed to a circle of five to seven people, occupying different positions. The group has its own people at the universities in Bulgaria and Albania, which issue the diploma with apostil and own people in the Macedonian Ministry of Education and Science (MoES). It is believed that the group is based in Gostivar, as consulting office, composed of ethnic Macedonians and Albanians. Anyone that obtained Bulgarian or Albanian diploma had to pay from 6 to 10 thousand euros, depending on the faculty in question. Considering the political channel for obtaining diploma, it is believed to be very sophisticated and hard to be unveiled, although it is a public secret that many distinguished politicians in Republic of Macedonia have gained academic titles after becoming relevant actors on the political scene. It is difficult to discover their forgery, because they take the advantage of their political authority and connections, and obtain the diploma “regularly” from the state universities in Macedonia, Kosovo, Bulgaria and Albania. They are regularly enrolled and fictitious file is being opened for them at the respective faculty, recording the number of student years, signatures, exams and grades, so they acquire these falsified diplomas in a legal way. Considering the fact that state universities are under control of political parties, the process of gaining diploma and academic titles is an easy procedure for politicians. One professor from the Economic Faculty, who insisted to be anonymous, said that throughout the transition period Macedonia has been faced with fake documents for completed higher education. – We first discovered the falsified diploma in 2002, issued by the Bulgarian universities. It was strange how these documents have passed through the MoES’s filters. We recognized they were forged, because the same pen was used for recording all semesters, grades and signatures, and the diplomas were issued in a range of just several days. We submitted request to the universities and they told us these students were never enrolled in these institutions. We have given all these documents to the Ministry of Interior to start an investigation, but nothing has been done. We assumed that the police would do nothing, considering the fact that prominent figures from state institutions, directors of well-known companies and politicians wanted to or have already become academicians, says the professor. He informs that forged diplomas are permanently discovered, but the police do nothing when it comes to prominent names. Nevertheless, it was revealed that the false diploma ended in the hands of Ashim B. (50) from Gostivar, Kazmedin M. (32) from Kumanovo, Darko K.(34) from Tetovo, Mile M.(40) from Gevgelija, Kiro G.(35) from Delcevo, Toni P.(35) from Negotino, Toni R.(37) and Bogi U.(35) from Valandovo, as well as Oliver V.(26), Dusko L.(48), Ibish N.(36), Gjorgji M.(40), Andrej S.(29), Lube V.(49), Jovan K.(30), Zoran B.(30), Goran J.(29), Marjanco M.(41), Konstandin K.(50), Arkan K.(26), Robert D.(27), Stojanco S.(28) and Ramazan Sh.(39) all from Skopje. The affair was first discovered in the case of Ashim B.(50), and then the lead showed the way to the others. – Around 300 other graduates from Bulgaria and Albania were interested in verification procedure, but did not submit the documents. Maybe the falsified diplomas were verified on some of the other universities in the country, the professor added. The official data from the Ministry of Education reveal that forged diploma have been discovered at the Faculties of Law, Medicine and Physical Culture.   GRADUATES” FROM BULGARIA, ALBANIA…   The Ministry of Education and Science confirms the information on falsified documents, but simultaneously dismisses the possibility that any of their officers has been involved in the process of verification of invalid diploma. – The requests for verification go to the Verification Commission. Except the representatives of the Ministry of Education, the commission is composed of representative from the Interior Ministry and the Criminal Investigation Unit. The commission is tasked with checking the validity of diploma, says Suzana Dzamtovska, spokesperson of the Ministry of Education. According to her, the first way of examination is the Ministry to address the institution that issued the diploma, in order to get confirmation whether certain diploma has been issued to that specific individual. She informs that from 2002 to 2006 total of 132 diplomas have not been verified on grounds of being invalid. – Most of them come from Bulgaria and Albania, while to lesser extent from Kosovo and Serbia. All these cases are directed to the competent bodies i.e. Ministry of Interior, which is responsible for initiating a procedure, Dzamtovska added. Numan Salai, from the Information Sector in the Education Ministry says that for each international diploma, additional verification is required from the issuing university. In most cases, the response arrives in 30 days. If the answer is positive, MoES verifies the diploma, and if it is negative it is being redirected to the police. – In many cases the respective international universities do not provide any answer or the answer is not specific whether the diploma is valid or not. This raises the suspicion that something is wrong with the “graduate”, who submitted the diploma for verification. We often have cases of receiving negative answer, so Education Ministry, pursuant to the law, submits the case to the police, says Salai. Regarding the discovered cases of forged diploma, the police informed us that 201 criminal charges were pressed against 235 persons for falsifying documents in the period 2000-2006. – In most cases these are diploma for completed secondary or higher education in Macedonia and neighboring countries, Albania, Kosovo and Bulgaria. The accused have submitted these diplomas in order to get promotion, says Goran Pavlovski, police spokesperson. In 2006, 47 charges were filed against 76 persons for document forgery, in most cases university diploma. According to him, in 2003 there were 97 charges against 100 perpetrators of this crime, and the accused submitted the diploma when applying for position in the public institutions. In 2004, 27 people were accused for forging diploma for higher and secondary education, says Pavlovski, adding that so far in 2006, three criminal charges were filed against people who used these forged diploma for completed secondary, advanced or higher education. Pavlovski informs that there were no cases of forging diploma in 2000 and 2001. SOPHISTICATED FORGERY   Except the politicians, also the wealthier students can obtain fake diploma without legal repercussions. In this case, the students bribe the professors for each grade, but indirectly. This method is mostly present at the Faculties of Philology and Pedagogy in Skopje. – We have some students who instantly get the grades and graduate in six months or one year. Mainly the party officials need diploma to get a managing position. The interventions are political, says one anonymous professor from the Faculty of Pedagogy. The commentators say that these professors do not ask or get bribe directly. In order to “buy” the grade, the student should make a deal with the intermediary, who is usually a student close to the professor. The entire procedure takes up to four years, consuming around 20,000 euros, but the student index and file exist, so the diploma can be hardly refuted. – We all know of three students who have connections with all professors. They ask whether someone is interested to get grade without learning, but the service costs from 300 to 500 euros. Around 100 euros is commission for the student, while the rest of the money goes in the professor’s pockets. One of these intermediaries graduated last year, but is still mingling with the students in order to get new clients, because this is profitable business, says Artan M. from the Faculty of Philology in Skopje. Zekirija Neziri, professor at this Faculty, has not heard of this kind of bribing among the professors. – We do not know how certain people get diploma without attending the studies or enrolling at the universities. As an institution we verify just those diplomas from foreign countries, with which Macedonia has not signed any agreement on cooperation in this area such as Kosovo or any other country. We give our opinion on whether the candidate meets the criteria for obtaining the diploma or title. MoES is responsible for all the other issues, even the verification of diploma, says Zekiri. DISPUTED DIPLOMA FROM TETOVO UNIVERSITY   Former professor from the State Tetovo University, who required to remain anonymous, said that in the period from 1994-2003, when the university was still not legalized, the leadership has issued 350 diplomas for completed higher education from various faculties and profiles, without any procedure. – There are some tragicomic situations when several persons received university diploma, even though they have not completed secondary education. Some of these “academicians” have not ended their education here, but precisely on STU have obtained master or doctor degree. Some of them now work as professors or assistants, says the professor. In his words, after legalizing the university in 2005, the Commission comprised of university professors and MoES representatives discovered a series of flaws and abuses. The Commission verifying the knowledge of graduated students found out that many of the diplomas are sham. – Mainly people from Kosovo and Albania have gained these falsified diplomas. In Macedonia this was the case only with politicians who urgently needed the diploma to get a managerial position in state institutions or to be promoted in their parties. Deans, professors, administrative staff and students have been all involved in this affair, says the former professor of STU. He adds that the documents were issued based on falsified indexes, and large amounts of money have been given for obtaining the diploma. Tetovo police is familiar with the case and started the investigation, which is futile. STU Rector’s Office does not want to comment on this topic, and neither denies nor confirms the information. They say the Commission is still reviewing the diploma issued before 2004, when the university was formally legalized. DIPLOMA OFFERS BETTER JOB POSITION   The official police data show that the demand for diplomas in Macedonia is high, as they are used either for employment or better position in the hierarchy. In this respect, in 2004 the police have detained A.S. (54) and D.M. (38) as well as their colleague N.D. (62) employed in the Power Company of Macedonia for having falsified diploma. The accused have bought diploma for completed higher education from BelgradeUniversity. After getting the diploma, they have submitted it to the Human Resources Department, requesting deployment to better job positions. Their request was met, but couple of months later it was discovered their diploma were forged. Around 100 false academicians have been also discovered in the Interior Ministry. In 2004, the police have discovered 15 Albanians attending a course, who bought Bulgarian diploma in order to be hired by the police. Everyone was fired, except Fekret Duraku, brother of the then minister of agriculture, Sadula Duraku. He submitted a master degree obtained from the SportAcademy in Sofia. When the police checked the date, it was revealed that the document was forged. However, Duraku continued to work in the Security and Counterintelligence Agency in Kumanovo. In 2003, the police filed criminal charges against Z.C. (33) and A.S. (35) for forging the documents. When they searched the house of A.S. (35), owner of travel agency, a diploma form from the HighEconomicSchool in Peja, Kosovo was discovered. Soon, afterwards it became evident that the same person obtained diploma for two employees in the police. BULGARIA WHOLE SALE OF DIPLOMAS   In two months of journalistic investigation, the newspaper “Politika” has discovered more than ten channels for manufacturing and distribution of falsified diploma for secondary and higher education. The materials are submitted to the National Service for Combating Organized Crime (NSCOC), which is already working on this case. In contrast to the police, the Ministry of Education showed no interest of “Politika” investigation, as it was summer vacation time. The offers for false diploma are freely disseminated through the Internet, where following advertisement can be seen: “I sell diploma for secondary and higher education,” “Valid diploma for secondary and higher education from a school of your choice,” Diploma Site”, “We sell original diploma for secondary and higher education”, “I sell diploma from secondary and higher education in all alternatives” There are sincere scamps, who dare to ask for 100 lev to be paid on a bank account, and then they exchange the contact e-mail. They think that in this way the buyers of falsified diploma will become aware of breaking the law, and will not go to police to say they were deceived. The connection with “serious traders” of false diploma is being established in two days. At the beginning, the talks are not much open or the candidate is appropriately checked. At the contact e-mail several advertisement for property sale are sent, followed by intimidations from the moderator of the site “Dalavera.net” that the IP sends advertisements to various, and sometimes non-existing e-mails. In several letters the moderator uses the court as a scare, but after he is convinced that the client is real person and has serious intentions of buying diploma, the intimidations stop. This happens during the first day, and the next day the specific offer arrives, where the price of around 2,000 euro is asked for false diploma from the University of National and World Economy, with specialty in “Accounting and Auditing”. “The Diploma is normal and registered, so when you tell me the year of issuance that you want I will tell you the exact price and the deadline when the diploma will be delivered,” the offer states. Two photos, copy of the ID card and diploma for secondary education are required. Fifty per cent of the amount is paid in advance, and the rest is given after receiving the document. Unless the agents from the National Service for Combating Organized Crime are involved, the investigation will stop here. The reporter can go out at the meeting and pay in advance the required amount. But, in this case he is already collaborator or inciting a criminal act and he threatened by the Bulgarian legislation. The investigation of NSCOC forces is also connected with a series of procedural requests. It is a must to find a prosecutor close to this issue, which will initiate the procedure. But if according to the estimations of prosecutor, just as in the case of the Education Ministry, the problem is insignificant, then one can hope for an accidental discovery. This is the practice in 90 per cent of the discovered workshops for fabricating secondary and higher education diploma in the past years. The policemen encounter them either by a signal for production of falsified Bulgarian and foreign identity documents, or along the false foreign visas, driving licenses, control and traffic license or medical certificates. Small number of illegal printing house produces just one type of forgeries. “We do not have much of an experience in discovering this type of crime,” admits one of the employees in the National Service for Combating Organized Crime. The last case was on July 13, 2005. A criminal group of five persons has been arrested, preparing and placing full arsenal of falsified documents. Organizer of the gang is 49-year old man with double citizenship – Macedonian and Bulgarian. This phenomenon is observed among several criminal groups. They are comprised of at least 4 persons, of which one always has double citizenship – Macedonia, Serbian or Russian. In this case, the organizer had a criminal record and was convicted of falsifying documents in Macedonia. He was a former manager in the industry sector. The workshop for forging documents was located in Sofia, in “Levski” settlement. An important role in this scheme played the company of accounting, auditing and tax consultation “Vezilka”. The director was the Bulgarian Snezina Stefanova Ivanova, born on May 26, 1962. The other two managers in the company were the Macedonians Stojanov Pece and Stojanov Ilija. They became partners in 2003, when they divided the ownership and took over the assets of another bankrupted company of Snezina Ivanova. Active participant in the group was the artist from Trojan city, Ivan Hadzijski, talented young man, claiming he had nothing in common with the others. He only admitted he knew Ivanova, who was his accountant. During the search of the house of one person from the same town of Trojan, who also participates in the group, a hiding place was discovered with three bags of fake diploma for secondary education with a stamp and signature, false tokens, customs declarations with stamp and small-caliber gun with bullets. The software of the falsifiers was maintained by another collaborator who lived in Pleven. The case is still under investigation, and no charges are filed yet. In 2004, in the registration of “Vezilka” changes have occurred. The scope of company’s activities was expanded by adding the agricultural production. This is a modern approach, taken by those involved in grey economy in Bulgaria, a practice widely used in the past years. The murdered smuggler on the island of Aruba and head of the organized criminal group Konstantin Dimitrov – Samokov called himself “potato producer”. The killed drug dealer and head of the gang for contracted killings, Anton Miltenoc a k a Kljuna was also registered as farmer. The farming is in vogue, as a way for the criminals in shadow to justify their illegal proceedings from criminal activity. Although maybe in a different scale, the producers of falsified documents also need to justify their illegally gained proceedings, so they register themselves as farmer. The experts distribute two types of diplomas: fake diploma and original diploma, obtained in illegal way. It is harder to investigate the second type, because in most cases they are related with the corruption in the respective secondary or higher education institutions. One of the few cases even reached the court several years ago. In the Nineties, German citizen Reiner Shute obtained diploma from the Technical Faculty of the FloridaUniversity. He arrived in Bulgaria and became master candidate at the European Faculty of Mining-Geological University. Today this university is closed, but for a certain period of time was issuing tones of fake diploma. The University, from which the German got the diploma, is not considered as legitimate in many countries, including ours. Under pressure of the then rector of European faculty of Mining-GeologicalUniversity, the German was accepted with an option to continue his education. After a year he received a diploma of higher education with the title master, without knowing a single word in Bulgarian. He did not have to demonstrate any knowledge of languages because the exams he has taken (ten in total) were fictitious. The explanation of the rector was that there has been a translator who posed the questions and translated the answers. Once he has succeeded, the German tried to get PhD degree in Plovdiv. But the luck was not on his side there. During the investigations another problem emerged. The prosecution saw no reason to press charges, adding that the German citizen has been already punished by taking away his diploma. The case is not closed yet, but it is very likely that it could end with acquittal. Another type of deception is the publications, with which the foreigners protect their dissertations. There are amazing cases. A candidate has submitted seven scientific publications to get higher title. Four of them were already published, and he was the publisher. The other three were published in the most famous journals in a very short period of time. This has raised the suspicion, which was confirmed with the additional examination. It was established that the foreigner scanned the journal, but erased part of the contents and there wrote the name of his publication. In the same way he has replaced some of the last pages. Everything else was authentic. This was carried out in a very professional way, so the editors did not spot the deceit. “Bulgaria became part of the world mafia for forging diplomas,” admits Petar Kenderov, president of the High Commission for Attestation. He is academician, professor and doctor in mathematics. He has graduated at MoscowStateUniversity. Prof. Kenderov claims that most of the diploma sent for validity check in Bulgaria, contained elements indicating they were not issued here. How diplomas are being forged? With contemporary computer technique the real diploma is being scanned, and with the same font the name of the person is being changed. Members of another commission are being inserted, mostly non-existing names, which allegedly brought a decision on the title. False number is also attached. This is very professional, so the foreigners (the strongest is the German market) buy such diplomas and on that ground pretend to get title of professor. The issue of fabricated diplomas is being raised only after there is an official request for testing the validity of the document. On contrary, this can never be discovered. A German citizen has written a heartbreaking letter to our ambassador in Germany that he lost his diploma and he urgently needed a replication. His request was processed, but to everyone’s surprise it was noted that a diploma was never issued to a person with that name and under that number. During the examination it was concluded that the German has successfully used the forged diploma, and he knew it was forged because he paid a large amount of money for getting it. If a duplicate is issued with the appropriate signatures and stamps, the fake diploma is being verified. Many foreigners know that and try to avoid the national and Bulgarian legislation. There are people who do not know they are violating the law, because they buy the diploma from a company that is officially registered in the country. This practice is very common in Macedonia. So, the buyer is escaping the accountability, because he used an intermediary. On the other hand, the intermediary is also innocent, claiming that he does not know the people who made the diploma. He has procured the document from a third person and got commission from the customer, but it is not his role to be the detective. “Many times we have operations to follow the path of forged diploma to customers and to see which are the companies and persons distributing them, but for now we do not have data whether similar investigations are carried out abroad,” says docent Petar Kenderov. Although the number of fake diploma has been reduced in comparison with previous years, there are still dozens of them. Foreign markets are the main stimulus for the counterfeiters. Some of the discovered samples can be confused with the originals, but there are also many amateur attempts, which can be published in the funny pages in newspapers under the headline “Spot the difference” All fake diploma discovered last year are with the signature of the last president of the High Commission for Attestation, although they were registered as being issued during the mandate of Kenderov. “Obviously they have not scanned my signature yet,” he comments. The forgers still use the signature of the scientific secretary from 2000, and five other persons have performed this duty in the meantime. According to the information from the High Commission, the scientific degrees are sold at higher price than the usual diploma – a price reaching up to 12,000 euro. There is one element reoccurring in almost all fake diploma discovered abroad, claimed to be with Bulgarian origin. There are some traces of the Russian language. The forgers obviously do not spot the difference, because the suffixes and cases do not leave an impression to them. In the other diploma from abroad, there was an absurd such as educational degree of “professor”. The investigation of “Politika” found dozens of e-mails with the suffix “ru”. The offered price for fake diploma in one of them is 600 lev. The prices of fake documents are from 1,000 euro and above. The person offering this 600-lev diploma says he has launched a “promotional offer” due to the low demand, emphasizing that the price will be valid until the end of August, The deadline for making these fake documents is two to three weeks. The payment is in cash, although the installments are an option, but the document is given after the final installment is paid. More than 300 fake diploma for secondary and higher education were discovered in private houses in Pernik in 2004. The operation of the National Service for Combating Organized Crime went on for two months. Two men, 68 and 47 years old, were accused after finding out they sold diploma for 50 leva each, which is the record price even for counterfeited diploma. Nine workshops for fabricating documents were discovered in Sofia, Plovdiv, Kyustendil and Silistra in April 2003. The searched companies hid behind the legal consulting services, and their offices were in suburbia. During the search in Plovdiv dozens Bulgarian, German, Dutch and Irish passports, Bulgarian and Russian diploma as well as ID cards with photos and data were found. The lawyers advised the criminals to claim they were collectors. In their statements they are still saying they had an intention to put the fake diploma and ID cards on the walls instead of wallpapers. The paradox is that after taking the statements they were immediately released. The reason is that the punishment for forging documents is up to three years imprisonment, and therefore they cannot be kept in constant custody. Most of the illegal printing houses are in the province and not in the capital where the headquarters are located. On February 10, 2005 in the town of Svishtov a private printing house was discovered issuing hundreds false diploma. Behind the company was the unsuccessful municipal advisor and activist of the National Movement “Simeon the Second,” Volodja Georgiev. His official income comes from the bookstore and advertising company in the “City of Customs Officers”, as Svishtov is often called. The illegal forgers assess Georgiev as dilettante, because he was breaking the market prices. He wanted to make money from the turnover and not the quality. Volodja Georgiev has affinity towards SvishtovEconomicAcademy, where thanks to him, more that 200 current and future customs officers and transporters graduated in a different way. Georgeiv knew that his business will not run for a long time. When he was imprisoned he offered to buy coffee to the police officers and then theatrically stretched his arms in front of him to be handcuffed. During the search, the police found 154 stamps from different Bulgarian education institutions, municipal and tax administration, notary public, state institutions. Great deal of the documents was issued thanks to the fact that he was president of the school board in the State Trade Gymnasium “Dimitar Hadzi Vasilev”. During the investigation, it was noted that he has issued fake diploma and academic certificates from several other educational institutions – New Bulgarian University, University of Rousse “Angel Kanchev”, TechnicalUniversity, Gabrovo and UNSS plus several secondary schools. He issued diploma for veterinary specialists. The investigation against Volodja Georgiev ended in October 2005 with a deal. The County court in Svishtov announced that deal was made between the county prosecutor’s office and Georgiev’s lawyers. The defended pleaded guilty and accepted the verdict of two years imprisonment or five years suspended imprisonment. The state has seized computer configuration with laser printer and the evidence was destroyed. Another party activist was imprisoned in November 2003 in Rousse – Julijan Spasov – former head of Rousse’s County Youth Section of the Union of Democratic Forces. He was accused of using the fake diploma of a lawyer. He found a job as an attorney. During the search stolen documents from Rousse’s prosecutor’s office were found in his apartment. One should not neglect the political moment. In April 2005 the County court in Burgas has defended the former rector of local university “Prof. Dr. Asen Zlatarov” docent Nikolaj Ralev accused of issuing fake diploma to prominent persons from the politics and business. The prosecutor’s office insisted on three year prison sentence or five years suspended imprisonment, but Sabco Sabev did not agree. The case was scandalous. Among those that received fake diploma are the names of former health minister Ilko Semerdziev, head of the parliamentary commission on social affairs, Hasan Ademov, former deputy defense minister Mehmed Xhafer and other famous persons. According to the prosecution, the three of them obtained diploma in illegal way after attending only 2-3-month courses. They were enrolled in a course for post-graduate qualification, and have entered as master candidate students without taking the entrance exam. Total of 50 persons were awarded with the title master with short procedure and without taking the entrance exam. Great corruption scandal emerged at MoscowStateUniversity for Culture and Art based in Rousse in 2004. The rector of this educational institution Tatjana Kiseljova was accused of mediating the sale of 130 fake diploma for lawyers from 2001 to 2004 in amount of 550,000 US$. According to the information on the web-site “Gazeta.ru” the bribe varies according to the prestige of specialty and the complexity of performance. For the first year one should pay 34,000 $, for economy 20,000$ and for humanitarian studies between 10,000 and 20,000$. In Rousse the most famous forger is Jordan Nikolov, a k a Karate expert. His first printing house for fabricating banknotes and documents was discovered on August 18, 1997. Twelve persons were detained, but only three were accused. The karate expert was convicted to 6 years imprisonment, with a strict regime in the beginning, and his sons Iskren and Juli got suspended punishments as accomplices. Two years afterwards another printing house of the karate expert was discovered. Another famous city for producing tones of diploma is Burgas. In 2004 the printing house of Radostin Radev was discovered. The criminal scheme involved his friend Elena Ferdinanova, Aleksandar Hristov, yearlong officer in the Civil Aviation Administration in Burgas, Mihail Teoharov and former cop Martin Dinkov. The indictment is they have produced 267,000 fake dollars in the period May 2003 and February 2004. During the operation in “Radio Print” the policemen seized graphic press, scanner, printer, laminators, offset machine, hand paper cutter, hand binding machine, photocopying equipment, computer and aluminum matrix with the label of US Federal Reserves. The offset included pre-press materials for printing fake banknotes of 100 dollars. Ten other prepared materials were discovered for diploma for secondary and higher education, stamps from state institutions, tourist licenses, driving licenses and other forms for documents. The largest international scandal so far, happened in 2002 when experts from the Macedonian Ministry of Education presented to their Bulgarian colleagues more than 80 false diploma. They were all issued by the Bulgarian Universities. Most fake documents were discovered at “Ss. Kiril and Metodij” University in Skopje. The representatives of the Macedonian Education Ministry came to get information about the verification requests and to get samples from the legal stamps and signatures of the relevant education institutions. Most of the fake documents were issued on behalf of the University for National and World Economy. The investigation of “Politika” only showed that this practice is still on. Recently on the web-site of Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science there is a registry for verified diploma for completed higher education abroad and registry of current students and of those who have ended their studies as well as PhD candidates. The first register now includes data on verification of documents for higher education after January 1, 2006. This means that if you buy diploma with an older date, there is no mechanism to discover this. The second registry included current data for the winter semester in 2005. The registries were supposed to become functional at the end of 2004, beginning of 2005, according to the director of Information Service and Technologies, Dimitar Cvetkov. The idea is the employers to check on the internet whether the prospective candidates have original diploma for completed secondary and higher education. This intention was part of the 2001 World Bank project on modernization of education. The credit from the World Bank was used for other purposes and the system is not functioning. The problem with fake diploma for secondary and higher education is not a priority for the Education Ministry at this moment.   Older cases November 2002 Police officer from Pazardzhik, employed for 5 years ago was fired, after it was established that his diploma for secondary school was forged. The case was given to the Prosecutor’s Office in Plovdiv. In the same time, border policemen, junior officer Kiril Kirjakov was also sacked from the regional border service in Elhovo. He was accused of presenting document with false contents – diploma on completed secondary education with average performance higher than the actual.   June 2002 The Prosecutor’s Office in the town of Pleven started investigation against the director of “Vasil Aprilov” school, Plamen Pavlov for issuing false diploma on completed eighth grade with old stamps and forms from the school. He was dismissed. March 2002 Fifteen professional soldiers from the elite 61st Brigade in Karlovo from the Rapid Response Unit were discharged for using forged diploma on secondary education. This was discovered after they applied for the Bulgarian company for securing the Rapid Response Unit is Bosnia. The officers suspected the consecutive numbers of diploma presented by the soldiers. The diplomas were forged in illegal printing company in Karlovo and were sold for 80 to 100 Bulgarian lev. September 2001 56-year old teacher from Plovdiv, Pavel Georgiev, was accused of illegal issuing of certificate for secondary education with the stamps from the Evening Gymnasium “Hristo Smirnenski” for Electrical Industry and Catering school. He forged the certificates for professional qualification, working cards and official letters confirming the working experience. He authorized the documents by putting stamps that he has created from “Dentaflex” materials. He took up to 200 US$ for the service. October 1999 The policemen from the town of Shumen have discovered a group of four persons issuing false diploma for secondary and higher education on behalf of the universities in Shumen and Veliko Trnovo and several secondary schools in Shumen and Veliki Preslav. The channel went all the way to Turkey where some of the falsified documents were sold. The price was between 40 and 200 DM. October 1999 43-year old Nacko Markov from Borovan, Vraca, was accused for producing false diploma for secondary education. The investigation started when 31-year old Tosko Todorov from Krusovica village with forged diploma has applied for work in Regional directorate of the Interior Ministry in Vraca. October 1999 Secret forgery was discovered in Kaculka village, Krdzali. The 37-year old Akif Mustafa fabricated personal documents and diploma for secondary and higher education. The orders came from Turkey. Most documents were issued for specialty in Bulgarian philology and second specialty in Russian philology. The prices ranged from 500 to 1,500 DM. ALBANIA: A SECRET KINGDOM OF FORGERS   Everyone can graduate in Albania, even in few hours. Suddenly you can appear with a diploma in political science, economy, law, and engineering in the branch of one’s request, natural sciences or philology, even medicine. It is like a black market, where it is enough to find the right guy and to get the goods you are looking for. There are hundreds of these graduated Albanians throughout the Balkans, in institutions and private companies, in all places for which these persons were interested. They present their diploma bearing the stamps and signatures from the University of Tirana or other Albanian universities. And, they work on places they desire, applying even in the public institutions, such as administration or police. NEAR THE “ROAD TO KAVAJA”   Everything seems simple. But where to find the falsified diploma? How can you get to some of the “masters”? I ask my source, and he tells me that he does not know anyone directly, but heard from some of his acquaintances that there is a man, with false name, around 37 years old, who can provide diploma resembling the original with signatures and stamps of any university you like. They say he is master and it is hard to recognize the documents made by his hand are forged. I found out he had illegal office on “Road to Kavaja” street. I learned that in the centre of Tirana there is still work for this master, who supports the clients with falsified documents. But, except him, through the intermediaries in the same street you can contact other two forgers. My source lets me know that on the “Road to Kavala” a new network of forgers is based. It seems they have always been here, and were not threatened by the police, so somehow are deeply rooted. The people I ask tell me forgers have withdrawn, being very cautious. The spectacular arrests and announcements for destroying each and everyone of this traffickers fabricating documents in the capital, have contributed for most of them to cease the activity or to develop it in full secrecy, being ten times more careful in not leaving cues. They feel threatened and under constant surveillance. But, my source says there is a way to get diploma from them. Of course through a third or fourth person. The meeting with them is impossible. I tell him to ask about the price of one falsified diploma and he says it depends on the master you choose. He tells me that not all of them are on the same level. Some of them are so good in forging that even the rectors and deans cannot believe their eyes when they see their own signatures. I stop here. It would be much better if a meet someone who has been damaged by this strange, but highly profitable business. And they say that the most damaged in the past three years is Shezai Rokaj, rector of TiranaUniversity, whose name and signature were frequently abused in these documents, for which he does not even know they exist. RECTOR UNDER THREAT He is almost constantly under threat. He never knows when a forger would put his signature on a diploma. He cannot even predict the moment when someone knocks on his door giving him a file and asking him suspiciously: “Is this your signature, mister Rector?” PhD Shezai Rokaj is appointed for rector of TiranaUniversity in 2003. This is the time when the forgers in Tirana reached their climax. He says that during the first year of his appointment a delegation from Macedonia paid him a visit to his office, requesting confirmation of the validity of his signature on one diploma. First he was surprised, but then the newly appointed rector realized he has entered one complicated history. “They were right. With many applications of Albanians looking for a job in Macedonia they submitted diploma for allegedly completed studies at the University of Tirana, by using our signatures”. Among these applications, according to him, there were many cases of forged signature, but also cases where the signatures were correct, but the documents were not authentic. Rokaj explains that the issue of forged documents can be taken in two directions. One of them he labels as institutional guilt. “There are cases when the institution has one corrupted element in its administration. He can issue a document for bribe, and as a result the entire institution starts to be directly or indirectly involved in corruption. If a student requests a document for transfer, and the secretary issues not genuine document with the grades, it is natural for the dean, head of department or anyone else to sign this document. In this case we are talking about institutional honesty, seriousness and commitment of the civil servant in question. Such things happen quite often in our institutions. However, after we discovered them, all necessary measures were undertaken.” The second, mass direction, are the offices of forgers falsifying our signatures, which are called market of institutional documents. We have tried to stop this, but our institution is not responsible for investigating these matters,” Rokaj said, explaining that if some of the members of faculty administration were caught in the act, they would be automatically removed from work. “There is no other, easier measure. It is about degrading the prestige of the institution. This is important especially for regional communications.”   THIS ROAD TAKES TO MACEDONIA   In several occasions the rector of TiranaUniversity has raised his voice against the falsified diploma, and one of the strong referent points was TetovoUniversity. To the question why, rector Rokaj says that “many typical cases come from the inter-institutional transfers”. It seems that this point is most disturbing for him. “I have reported several cases. I have contacted the rector from Tetovo and told him that I have some signals and may be he should check the work of their administration for issuing these documents. He orally told me that some interesting cases were revealed. We had a case when we got a confirmation that one person has the status X in that specific school year. On the other hand, when we requested additional verification, we got something else. So we asked for third confirmation in order to determine what is correct, the first or the second one. In the cases when we had these double statements, we directly refused them,” Rokaj says of a last year case from TetovoUniversity. “In the documentation we received, once it was stated he was part-time student, and the next time full-time student. We received different signals. I revealed this case publicly through the media.” Rector Rokaj believes that with the additional confirmation and better communication with the universities in the region, this phenomenon can be eradicated. He says the most difficult time for verification of documents was in 2004, when there were some developments inside TetovoUniversity, and the MedicalSchool was closed. “We send documentation for official verification, something that was not done before, having in mind the experience of international agencies. But we did not receive a single answer for the cases we have sent in 2004. In 2005, after waiting for months to get the answers, we send our own man, who verified through the registries the status of the applicants. The submissions we received provided lot of space for abuse and misconduct that we discovered.” Rokaj says that in 30 requests for transfer, 4 or 5 were falsified documents. “This opens the door for abusing the state,” the rector says, explaining that in the past couple of years a good filter has been applied for receiving confirmation from the institutions in Macedonia and Kosovo, but also with 5-6 international agencies from US, Canada, Greece and Italy where the requests for confirmation of results were submitted for those interested in further education or employment in these countries.   PENALTIES   But is this filter enough to get in the way of abusing hundreds of persons using falsified documents? Rokaj says that almost in all cases where it has been established that the person presented falsified documents for education, the maximum punishment was dismissal. They do not have any criminal responsibility. Only the manufacturers of these forged documents are prosecuted in Albania. Albanian police has often undertaken measures for arresting many forgers. One big operation was realized in 2002-03, and afterwards a short period of calmness or secrecy followed. In 2005 and 2006 there were many interesting cases of using falsified documents as well as forgers caught by the police. MUFTI WITH FALSIFIED DIPLOMA   In May 2005, flagrant case was discovered about the diploma of the secretary of Islamic Community in Albania. Today Zuluftar Dervisi is mufti in Lushnja mosque. He lives quietly, far from the stir and accusations in the capital. One year earlier in 2005 he has entered an adventure. In the Islamic Community he replaced the secretary Sali Tivaru, who was mysteriously killed two years earlier in his office. As secretary of Islamic Community, Dervishi was often targeted. He was accused of not having the necessary education for performing this duty. He was often under suspicion that he abused the property and finances of Muslims. After all these allegations, the secretary has submitted his diploma to the verification commission of the Islamic Community. Although previously he has stated that he had graduated economy, during the verification he has submitted a diploma that he is graduated teacher, claiming he has obtained the diploma after completing the studies in 1993 at “Aleksandėr Xhuvani” university in Elbasan. But, several days afterwards, the rector of ElbasanUniversity, Professor Jani Dode, confirmed that Dervishi’s diploma has been falsified. The leadership of the Islamic Community gave a ten-day deadline to the secretary Dervishi to verify his diploma, or he would be fired. But after the verification, former rector of ElbasanUniversity, PhD Mehmet Cheliku, denied that his signature was on the diploma of the secretary of Muslims. In addition, former dean of Theacher’s School at the University, professor Ali Shashai, said the signature was not his. Two former leaders of ElbasanUniversity pointed out details from their signatures were missing in Dervishi’s diploma, confirming it was a forgery, which could be easily recognized by the way in which the diploma was written. In 1993 all diploma issued by ElbasanUniversity were written by one calligrapher, who was hired because of his good handwriting. The experts that were verifying the diploma presented by Dervishi, confirmed that some ordinary mistakes can be spotted, confirming this was hasty and not good forgery. Also, only the signature of dean of the faculty and president of the commission were written, although the practice says that the names of these persons should also be written. The case with the secretary of Islamic Community was resolved in a several days, as his diploma was a forgery. His opponents and those that accused him won. He, quietly, left the office of his killed predecessor, took his belongings and went to Lushnja. Now, he is mufti, delivering religious services. It seems he does not need university diploma for this. ONE SUPER FORGER   Muharem Kushe obtained his PhD degree in 1991. In 2003, when he was president of the Court of Appellate in Tirana, his name was connected with the case of one falsified diploma. It was the diploma of his daughter. In the story he was standing against one largely wanted forger. Vesel Serjanaj was arrested by the police in November 2003. 51-year old with a nickname “magician” who fulfilled anyone’s dream for getting any document, had erected his “fortress” on “Mihal Grameno” street in Tirana. There was everything – stamps, signatures of rectors, deans, heads of offices, original documents obtained from who knows who and where. This most wanted criminal was too careful to avoid the leads, continuing his activity in secrecy. In order to find clients on the ground he had a group of intermediaries. Only through them one could secure a document from master Serjanaj. His intermediaries could be frequently found near the block of embassies or the local bars known as an exchange for visa and other falsified documents. After long investigation the police have tracked him. One month after his arrest in a garage on the street “Baba Rexha” the counterfeiting department discovered abundance of falsified documents. The police have arrested Klajdi Cani and Skender Priska, as collaborators of super forger, Alfred Tanati, who was arrested several months before. The police made efforts to destroy the chain of traffickers, who succeeded to make a secret kingdom in the heart of the capital. At that time, the investigation included printing houses where the materials were printed and police started investigation against all suspicious, collaborators and different institutions that provided documents, most of which originals. According to the police, in the moment of Cani and Priska’s arrest there was information that Vesel Serjanaj is their collaborator. But, the evidence was not substantial. Serjanaj hid all materials on which he was working and ceased his activity in order to conceal the leads. Muharem Kushe, head of the Appellate Court, later found out who is Vesel Serjanaj, forger who among his treasuries also had a falsified diploma with the name of his daughter. But, Muharem Kushe categorically ruled out any connection with the forger. He said he did not know him, but could not rule out the fact that forger Serjanaj used the name of the judge for his purposes. There were signs on the diploma with the name of the 22-year old girl that indicated the photo was airbrushed, while the stamps and signatures were from the LawSchool in Tirana. The father of the girl said the original diploma was in his house and he never knew Serjanaj. Convinced that the forger has deliberately used his name in the affair and after he was finally in the hands of the police, he left the case to the past. When Serjanaj was captured, president of Appellate Court and many from the police believed that Vesel Serjanaj was the last in the wide network of forgers in Tirana. But the following weeks and months showed the contrary. POLICEMEN WITH FALSE DIPLOMA   In January this year one officer and two policemen in Elbasan were fired and another one was under investigation. The County police in Elbasan discovered that the investigation was initiated because these persons applied for work in the state police with forged documents. Sources from the Ministry of Interior disclosed the names of these former employees. “The first-ranking commander Nikolac Tafa, head of the traffic sector in ElbasanCounty and two policemen Jetmir Runaj in Pekin and Gzim Serbi in Elbasan were discharged. Under investigation is Bashkim Bufi, also first-ranking commander from Pekin. The sources confirm that the policemen were fired after it was discovered that their certificates were falsified in an operation launched by the Internal Control Office, Human Resources Office and Ministry of Interior. In few days, the investigators discovered that the employees used forged diploma and certificates to be promoted in the police. In one of the cases, a falsified diploma was used so that one official could become commander. The County police from Elbasan said that the entire documentation of the employed persons will pass through the control filter. Director of the county police, chief commissar Arben Joca said that constant investigations would be carried out after this precedent and the suspicion that many persons worked in the police without adequate education. The suspicion is raised that some uniformed persons from a basic rank do not have appropriate education, and many of them have 15-20 years of experience in the police.   EPILOGUE   This is not the final case. The newspapers in the capital print headline-grabbing information on the arrest of forgers. In a country where this kingdom was spreading the wings for 20 years, winning new spaces, the phenomenon cannot disappear while you blink your eyes. The magicians that can turn an illiterate person into lawyer or economist have only withdrawn. In their secret “offices”, along streets of Tirana they gather new material, do something covert and wait for the moments of new disturbances when the attention of the state will be focused on something else. The unscrupulous officers, as they were labeled by the rector of Tirana University Shezai Rokaj do the same within the university administrations. One dismissal, having in mind the ridiculously low salaries, is nothing in comparison with the profit one can gain from two or three falsified diploma. Even if you lose your job, you are still in gain. The number one at the University of Tirana wants to believe that this soup opera with all its affairs and characters will finally end. He believes that in the past two years the cases of abuse and fabricating documents are not that frequent. And yet, probably subconsciously, he expects someone to knock on his doors and ask him “Mister Rector, is this your signature?”   KOSOVO HYPER-PRODUCТIОN OF DOCTORS OF SCIENCE AND MASTERS   Kosovo is not that attractive country to forge diploma, because even the diploma issued by the universities in the country have not received the final status and are not valid in Macedonia, and many other countries. In the Ministry of Interior and Education they have discovered only two falsified diploma from 2000 to 2006. But the number seems bigger, because diplomas from PristinaUniversity have been provided to officials from Albanian political parties in Macedonia. – Most interested were the candidates for directors of secondary and primary schools. First they have obtained diploma from the advanced schools in Peja and Mitrovica, and then they came to Pristina to obtain university diploma, said a professor from PristinaUniversity, who insisted on anonymity. According to him, many prominent Albanian politicians in Macedonia, who ceased their studies in 1989 (when Belgrade cancelled the right for education in Albanian language), took the diploma after 1999, using the political connections in Pristina. He says the Albanians from Macedonia are more interested in getting master and PhD degrees, required to get employment in the State University of Tetovo and SouthEastEuropeanUniversity. In Kosovo the Ministry of Education have no data on falsified diploma, but they keep an eye on the officials in PristinaUniversity because around 50 candidates obtained master and doctor degrees in one year. – In this institution, 315 persons got the title doctor and 502 the title master in the period from 1990 to 2006. According to the Ministry’s official, many of these candidates have bribed the professors for the grades and their doctor or master dissertation were a plagiarism or they paid to other professors to prepare these dissertations. The newly appointed rector, Encer Hasani, on a public debate in Pristina, admitted that the doctors and masters after 1999 were the trickiest issue. – The phenomenon of plagiarism is widely present at the University in Pristina. The worst is at Law and EconomySchool. The foreigners in the commissions cannot even imagine that the titles from PristinaUniversity are obtained in illegal way. They do not know that even local professors are involved in this administrative hoax. The fake titles surfaced with the case of master degree issued on behalf of Naser Ademi, who also worked as a dean at the LawSchool at TetovoUniversity. After the plagiarism was discovered, the LawSchool started to review the case and the complaint has already arrived to the Ministry of Education in Kosovo. In 2000 Ademi defended his master thesis “Criminal act of Irresponsible Treatment of Patient,” which was then published as a book by the now late professor at the Law Faculty Fadil Batali. There are 18 completely same pages in these two publications. Anonymous professor at PristinaUniversity, close to the late Batali, says that Ademi was copying from Batali’s scripts before the book was published. – The late professor gave the scripts to Ademi as one of his students, and then he without any consultation has presented it as his own work in the master thesis, he added. On the other hand, Naser Ademi says that he has not committed plagiarism because Batali’s book was published two years after he has become master. – I worked on this topic before him and I am the first author, he says. While Ademi continues to work in the State University of Tetovo and is pursuing PhD studies in Tirana, Pristina continues to produce problematic doctors and masters. In this inverted system of values the main victims are the students of the Universities in Albanian language, both in Kosovo and Macedonia. In the meantime, a report from the International Crisis Group, published in February 2006, focuses on the low standard of graduated students in Pristina. According to the report, these graduates are not prepared, have no options for employment and are not ready to work in the state institutions.   This story is published in 2007 as transnational project supported by Danish SCOOP