Are Essay Mills fraud that is committing? An analysis of their behaviours vs the 2006 Fraud Act (UK)

Are Essay Mills fraud that is committing? 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 handle the application of Essay Mills along with other ‘contract cheating services that are students. These services generally offer bespoke custom-written essays or other assignments to students in exchange for a fee. There were calls for the use of legal methods to tackle the situation. Here we see whether the united kingdom Fraud Act (2006) might be used to tackle a few of the activities of companies providing these types of services within the UK, by comparing their practises that are common and their Terms and Conditions, because of the Act. We found that most of the sites examined have disclaimers regarding the utilization of their products but buy an essay there are obvious contradictions in those activities for the sites which undermine these disclaimers, for instance all sites offer plagiarism-free guarantees for the task and also at least eight have advertising which seems to contradict their conditions and terms. We identify possible areas where the Act could possibly be used to follow a case that is legal overall conclude that such an approach is unlikely to be effective. We call for a new offence to be created in UK law which specifically targets the undesirable behaviours among these companies in the UK, although the principles might be applied elsewhere. We also highlight other UK legal approaches that may become more successful.


The usage of so-called ‘contract cheating’ services by students happens to be a way to obtain controversy and debate within advanced schooling, particularly into the last decade. ‘Contract cheating’ refers, basically, into the outsourcing of assessments by students, to third parties who work that is complete their behalf in substitution for a fee or other benefit (Lancaster and Clarke 2016). These services offer ‘custom assignments’ of almost any form, although custom written essays look like the most typical. Students in many cases are in a position to specify the grade they want (although there is no guarantee this will be delivered), request drafts, referencing styles and almost any other custom feature (Newton and Lang 2016). Services available are quick and cheap (Wallace and Newton 2014) and students underestimate the severe nature with which universities penalise the use of contract cheating services (Newton 2015). Perhaps the simplest arrangements are directly between students and ‘custom essay writing companies’, nearly all whom are ‘listed’ companies with sophisticated promotional initiatives. However there are lots of ways in which students may use third parties to work that is complete them, with the contract spread across continents; writers may behave as freelancers, employed in another country to your student and their institution. These freelance home writers could make use of online auction services to promote and organise their work and these can be in just one more national country, and there could be another intermediary; a person 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 can find multiple actors in contract cheating, one or more of whom might be liable if their actions violate the law; students, their universities, the persons paying tuition fees, writers, those that employ writers, the websites which host the writers, advertising companies, those who host the advertising, an such like. Here we focus primarily on UK-registered essay-writing companies.

Across education, a student who completes an assessment to earn credit towards an award is usually expected to do this regarding the explicit basis that the submission is their own independent work. Ideally, both students and staff are given guidance by what constitutes misconduct that is academic 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 own independent work then that student will normally face a selection of penalties, administered by their university, for academic misconduct. These usually include cancellation of marks for the relevant module or the relevant component of the module subject to any mitigating circumstances (Tennant and Duggan 2008) in the UK. Historically, these behaviours have not been dealt with through legal mechanisms in the united kingdom (QAA 2016) and also this applies to plagiarism outside academic circumstances which, when you look at the words of Saunders,”. is not if it breaches an established legal right, such as copyright, or offends against the law of misrepresentation or other legal rules” (Saunders 2010) in itself illegal; it is only illegal.

However, a commonly used test for making legal decisions would be to determine how a ‘reasonable person’ might view a particular behaviour. If asked to explain the purchasing of essays for submission when it comes to purposes of gaining academic credit it seems logical to conclude that a fair person would conclude that such behaviour is ‘fraudulent’, particularly given the language connected with it (e.g. ‘cheating’). If another individual has knowingly assisted in that activity chances are they might reasonably be believed 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 an organization for the intended purpose of passing it off as his / her own work then it is clear that the student commits academic misconduct, but what for the individual or company that supplied the work in substitution for payment? As to the extent is that individual or company (an ‘assistor’) complicit in such misconduct? What is the liability that is potential of assistor and certainly will 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 perhaps more importantly, will there be the chance of fraudulent behaviour in the relationship amongst the learning student as well as the company?

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

Action in relation to UK law that is criminal normally undertaken by as well as the expense of the state through the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) but requires a criminal offence to have 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 accompanied by Crown Prosecutors if they make case decisions. Crown Prosecutors must be satisfied there is enough evidence to provide a “realistic prospect of conviction” and that it will be the public interest to pursue a prosecution (UK Government 2013).

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

In August 2016 the united kingdom regulator of advanced schooling, the standard Assurance agency, considered all approaches to cope with contract cheating, a problem that they stated “poses a serious risk to the academic standards plus the integrity of UK higher education” (QAA 2016). Their consideration of possible legal approaches under existing law concluded that the Fraud Act was the “nearest applicable legislation”, but they did not reach a company conclusion on its use, stating that “Case law seems to indicate a reluctance on the part of the courts to be concerned in cases involving plagiarism, deeming this to be a matter for academic judgement that falls outside of the competence for the court (Hines v Birkbeck College 1985 3 All ER 15)” (QAA 2016).

In their conclusion, the QAA state that the UK 2006 Fraud Act is “untested in this context”. Here we explore the detail of the Fraud Act further, and compare it towards the established business practises of UK-registered essay-writing companies, with a focus that is particular their Terms and Conditions.

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