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1,100+ Accountants and Auditors in a Single Firm Cheated on Professional Exams
Plus, a Florida TV station reports on cheating. Plus, the Pearson/Chegg challenge is potentially very big.
KPMG Australia Acknowledges Exam Cheating by More Than 1,100 Employees
The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) is a non-profit entity established by Congress to, you know, oversee the accounting practices at and of big companies.
I know, I’d never heard of it either.
Anyway, this week the PCAOB censured and fined KPMG Australia, an arm of the global KPMG accounting firm, $450,000 for widespread and long term cheating on certification and compliance exams. The report says:
quality control failures prevented the Firm from identifying that more than 1,100 Firm personnel, including more than 250 of its auditors, were involved in improper answer sharing—either by providing or receiving answers—in connection with tests for mandatory training courses covering topics that included professional independence, auditing, and accounting.
In total, the firm internally sanctioned 1,131 people, about 12% of its workforce.
The report says that employees shared exam answers on common file servers, circulated answers by e-mail, text message and hard copy. The exams in question had been conducted in an online format, with no oversight related to integrity, for more than five years.
It’s not always college students who cheat. But bad conduct matters and here, accountants and auditors were essentially lying about their own competencies. So far, no penalties have been imposed by Australian authorities.
Florida TV Station Highlights Cheating
CBS 12 in West Palm Beach ran a recent story titled, “Website for college students raises concerns.”
No, not that one. I mean, that one too, of course. But CBS was talking about a site called “ONLINECLASSHELP.COM” Really, they could have chosen any one of a thousand websites that profit from cheating students.
The company, CBS 12 says, will take online classes for students and guarantees a good grade. But when the station asked the company for comment:
The guy would only say they're not taking online classes for students. But he admitted students can take photos of exam questions, and a "tutor" will send them answers. What students do with that information, he says, is up to them.
Again, there are thousands of companies that do this.
The station showed the site to Comfort Olugbuyi, Associate Director of Academic Support at Palm Beach Atlantic University, who said,
This is cheating
It's not your work. You're paying someone else to do your work. That is the definition of cheating. It's completely, it's horrible. This company and other companies like this shouldn't exist.
That ought to do it.
That Pearson/Chegg Law Suit - It’s a Big Deal
In Issue 55, I wondered aloud whether a victory by Pearson in their copyright suit against Chegg would or could allow others to sue as well - professors and colleges who’ve had their copyrighted work usurped.
So, I asked some copyright lawyers and wrote about their general answers on the case at Forbes.
But on that point in particular - whether Chegg and Course Hero and others who sell answers to copyrighted questions could be legal targets in the event of a Pearson win - the answer is yes.
Dorothie Laguerre Smith, an Intellectual Property attorney from IPS Legal Group in Miami, said,
If Pearson is successful in its suit, this ruling can affect the entire academic industry. This may give rise to a cause of action to college professors, universities, and others, whose content is used by Chegg to create answers.
Ryan Vacca, Professor of Law at University of New Hampshire School of Law, who is the author of a casebook and numerous articles on copyright law, said,
yes, this could be a possibility … to the extent Chegg collects professors’ questions and includes them in their database for others to use, then the result should be similar.
As we all know, that’s precisely what Chegg does - collects professors’ questions and includes them in their database for others to use. In fact, a few of the legal experts I consulted said there is nothing stopping professors from suing right now or joining Pearson’s case, if Pearson agrees. Though, in cases such as these, the lawyers cautioned, the losing side may be nailed with the winner’s legal tab.
In any case, if Pearson wins and others act to protect their rights, this could significantly dent or even derail Chegg and others in the cheating business.
Personally, I’d love to see (read: I’m begging) professors and Deans and University Presidents or legal professors write to the Court, asking for copyright protections for their work - questions and the answers. Or join the Pearson case. Or both. Or do something, frankly. There may never be a better opportunity.
Though, rant or not, this case still has big, big potential to be very disruptive to the education and cheating and academic integrity communities.
More Insidious, Camouflage Advertising from Essay Mills
Here’s another example of paid marketing by essay mills, nested in an article about plagiarism in a random publication.
This one wonders ‘what is plagiarism and why does it keep happening?’ Oh my stars!
Anyway, as an “example” of a place that can write an essay for you without plagiarizing, it helpfully links to a site called “writemypaperbro.” Coincidentally, that same site is mentioned as providing a service called rewriting:
To avoid detection of plagiarism in such cases, authors can turn to rewrite my essay services – in this way old writings will become “new and unique”.
Because, you know, it’s not plagiarism. It’s new and unique writing, bro.
The point is that these cheating profiteers are not sitting idle. They are investing in advertising and marketing to students, selling their services in the public square - every day.
In the next “The Cheat Sheet” - An article that underscores why people who don’t understand education or academic integrity should not try to write about it. Plus, Inside Higher Ed runs two articles on cheating. One actually acknowledges that it happens. No, really. Plus, some quick bites.
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