On committing fraud then making it right

I may receive a commission if you sign up or make a purchase after clicking a link on this page. Read the full disclosure policy here

I was one of those kids who took a gap year after high school and never quite got to college. I was earning (relatively) big money working full time while my friends were studying hard and living hand to mouth. At the time becoming a university student made no sense. 
Fast forward a couple years and I realised I really wanted one of those lovely framed certificates to hang in my parents’ living room. At 21 I started taking university classes part time and have continued to do so for the past ten years.

I have submitted assignments from hotel rooms in Las Vegas, completed online quizzes from hostel kitchens in Colombia and read screeds of articles and books on flights for the past decade.

In 2004 battling a hangover one can only get in Thailand, I followed a dodgy looking man down numerous alleyways off Bangkok’s Khao Sarn Road to purchase a fake degree certificate from a reputable New Zealand university. It cost me 2000 baht ($72NZD). But I knew I had to complete the real one for my own sense of achievement.

My 2004 Bangkok Graduation Ceremony
My 2004 Bangkok Graduation Ceremony

With only seven weeks before we depart for Mexico I decided not to attend my official graduation ceremony due to the cost of flying to another city. I chose to graduate by post and yesterday I opened my front door and found the Courier’s call card stating I could pick up my scroll at the local pharmacy.

As I signed for this strange round tube in the pharmacy alongside recovering heroin addicts receiving their daily methadone dose I pondered how my two graduations were not so different after all. Only this time I wasn’t committing fraud.

And the real thing...it feels so much better! And legal!
And the real thing…it feels so much better! And legal!

Disclaimer: I never intended to use my fake degree; I purchased it purely for entertainment value. I was 22 and my friends and I thought it was funny. 



Hi, I'm Emma. I set about gaining financial freedom back in 2012 when my son was born. I've been hustling to pay down debt, save money and build online and passive income streams ever since. You can find out more here.

4 thoughts on “On committing fraud then making it right”

  1. Congratulations, Emma! It took me a long time to get around to going to college, too, so I know how great it feels when you’ve finally got that degree (the legitimate one, that is!). 🙂

    What was your major, and are you planning on using it to develop a career as you travel?

    • Thanks Laura, it sure it satisfying!
      I majored in History so my career opportunities in research or academia require further study. I do plan to teach English overseas and having any degree is a minimum requirement for decent jobs so that is helpful.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.