Online college classes are an attractive option to different student groups for various reasons–but students should know how to spot a “diploma mill,” or a school operating without the supervision of state or professional education agencies.

With more than 5.7 million students taking at least some of their higher-ed courses online, these diploma mills, or degree mills, are poised to award illegitimate degrees to unsuspecting students.

An online check by one group revealed more than 370 educational websites offering fraudulent degrees for those willing to pay.

In one instance, a man was accused of starting a fake university and doling out fake diplomas from prison for two years before he was caught.

(Next page: 7 red flags that might indicate a diploma mill)

About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Editorial Director, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura