Sandra Chapman/Eyewitness News
Indianapolis - The Indiana Department of Education has a state-wide warning regarding high school equivalency diplomas.
It's prompted more worries for one Indiana school about laid-off workers taking the bait. For adults who need a GED, a subtle bait and switch - replacing a "D" with an "L" in the name of one high school - could mean failing marks with potential employers or colleges.
That's because "Belford High School" with an "L" is bad news.
According to career counselor Norm Taylor, "Many people have fallen for this and it's unfortunate because we're in such a hard economic time."
Taylor oversees the GED program at the North Lawrence Career Center at Bedford High School. Nearly 100 adults earn diplomas there each year, but others are getting tangled up in a web of quick deception.
"That's the most so far, $400, that I've talked to," Taylor told Eyewitness News.
A viewer named Jamie tells Eyewitness News she went online to Belford High School where she paid $249 for a diploma. Later, she was denied admission to college because the diploma was a fake.
"I'm afraid our person's a victim of a scam," said Duane Martin, the Career and Technology Director and North Lawrence.
If she had come to Martin and Taylor's program in Bedford, she would have only payed $60. But she would have had to wait four weeks for state results.
A warning from the American Council on Education, known as the ACE, is posted on the state's web site, alerting students that they can not earn a GED online or through correspondence courses.
"You can go online and get training for GED and you might even do some pre-GED work," explained Martin. But the bottom line is, legitimate GED diplomas are issued by the state. There are no shortcuts.
The ACE says, "Any services that purport to offer a GED credential through any other means are NOT affiliated...may be dubious value and may deliver product that is not accepted."
"You're going to have to study, you're going to have to be prepared, and you're going to have to come to an accredited state and that's the only way to get the GED," Taylor warned one last time.
There are 70 GED testing centers across the state, including at North Lawrence. Anyone 17 years of age or older can take a scheduled test.
The message the state wants to get out is that you CANNOT earn a high school equivalency diploma online. Those who have lost money to scams can contact the Department of Education.
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