Cheating, inc.: How writing papers for American college students has become a lucrative profession overseas

THE INDEPENDENT:

Tuition was due. The rent was, too. So Mary Mbugua, a university student in Nyeri, Kenya, went out in search of a job.

At first, she tried selling insurance policies, but that only paid on commission and she never sold one. Then she sat behind the reception desk at a hotel, but it ran into financial trouble.

Finally, a friend offered to help her break into “academic writing”, a lucrative industry in Kenya that involves doing school assignments online for college students in the United States, Britain and Australia.

Ms Mbugua felt conflicted.

“This is cheating,” she said. “But do you have a choice? We have to make money. We have to make a living.”

Although such businesses have existed for more than a decade, experts say demand has grown in recent years as the sites have become more sophisticated, with customer service hotlines and money-back guarantees.

The result? Millions of essays ordered annually in a vast, worldwide industry that provides enough income for some writers to make it a full-time job.

The essay-for-hire industry has expanded significantly in developing countries with many English speakers, fast internet connections and more college graduates than jobs, especially Kenya, India and Ukraine.

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