Virtual universities, called diploma mills by experts, are using the freedom and breadth of the Internet to lure students into their programs. This story exposes Columbia State University as one of the alleged perpetrators and raises questions about several other institutions that claim to be "leaders in distance education." It describes student difficulty distinguishing between legitimate distance education providers and institutions that could be fleecing applicants (and grant or stipend providers). The current accreditation system is exacerbating the problem, as confusion abounds over which agencies determine the quality of distance-education programs. Loose regulations make the problem even worse.