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Spain: 27 held in university degree scam

  • Story Highlights
  • The degrees cost €18,000 ($24,000), officials say
  • Buyers got certificates saying they had graduated from universities in Peru
  • Most of the fake degrees were for medical certification
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From CNN Madrid Bureau Chief Al Goodman
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MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Spanish police have arrested two people for selling fake university degrees and 25 people who bought them to work under false pretenses, including a fake medical worker who nearly some killed senior citizens with improper pharmaceutical prescriptions.

The bogus degrees from Peruvian universities cost $24,000, Spain's Interior Ministry said in a statement Tuesday.

They were sold by two Spanish men, now under arrest, from their respective academies in Alicante and Malaga on Spain's southern Mediterranean coast, the ministry said.

Most of the fake degrees were for medical surgeon, while others were for psychologist, doctor of physical therapy and rehabilitation, pharmaceutical chemist, lawyer, architect, business administration, forest engineer and historian, the statement said.

"Some of those who were detained worked in nursing homes, such as in Caceres (western Spain), where professional negligence nearly killed two senior citizens from medical prescriptions," the statement said.

Other alleged medical workers had gotten jobs in private clinics, where they were injecting patients with silicone or Botox, the statement said.

The police investigation started in the northern Basque city of San Sebastian. The first three people detained -- who had fake degrees as physical therapists -- told authorities where they had obtained the diplomas.

The owners of the two academies maintained contact with Peruvian universities, where they made periodic trips. The buyers later presented the fake degrees to Spain's Ministry of Education to have them authorized as valid for Spain.

Authorities said arrests were also expected in Peru, for those who issued the fake degrees and sent them to Spain.

A total of eight suspects were arrested in Madrid, five in Alicante, and the rest in towns across Spain, from Barcelona in the northeast to Ponferrada in the northwest.

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