The United States of America has filed charges against at least 18 Nigerian nurses for allegedly fraudulently obtaining educational credentials.
The Texas Board of Nursing charged the health workers at the District Court for the Southern District of Florida saying the nurses allegedly participated in a wire fraud scheme that created an illegal licensing and employment shortcut for aspiring nurses.
According to the charge documents, the scheme fraudulently sells nursing degree diplomas and transcripts obtained from accredited Florida-based nursing schools to individuals seeking licenses and jobs as registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/VNs).
The alleged selling and purchasing of nursing diplomas and transcripts to willing but unqualified individuals is a crime that potentially endangers the health and safety of patients and insults the honorable profession of nursing, said Omar Aybar, a Special Agent in charge of the investigations.
The bogus diplomas and transcripts qualified purchasers to sit for the national nursing board exam and, after passing it, to obtain licenses and jobs in various states as RNs and LPN/VNs, the US attorney was told.
The overall scheme involved the distribution of more than 7,600 fake nursing diplomas issued by three South Florida-based nursing schools — Siena College in Broward County, Fla — Palm Beach School of Nursing in Palm Beach County, Fla — Sacred Heart International Institute in Broward County.
FBI investigators said these schools are now closed.
The Nigerians charged are: Abiodun Felicia; Adelakun Aveez; Adelekan Adewale; Adeoye Temitope; Adewale Abidemi; Afolabi Toun; Afolabi Omowunmi; Agbo Steve; and Ajibade Omotayo.
Others are; Akande Olabisi; Akhigbe Catherine; Akinrolabu Folasade; Ako Esiri; Akpan Rosemary; Alimi Bukola; Ani Ndirika; Aroh Nchekwube; and Ayodeji Sherifat.
A total of 23 have been charged.
Crimes such as these continue to spring up in the United States.
If guilty, each defendant faces up to 20 years in prison, according to court documents made public 25 January.
“Not only is this a public safety concern, it also tarnishes the reputation of nurses who actually complete the demanding clinical and course work required to obtain their professional licenses and employment,” said US Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Markenzy Lapointe, who added that “a fraud scheme like this erodes public trust in our health care system.”
However, formal charges are not a final disciplinary action, and a nurse is permitted to work, as a nurse, while formal charges are pending, the nursing board said.
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