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USF diploma kit for sale on Internet

For the cost of a few textbooks, Internet auction site eBay was listing the makings of a counterfeit degree and transcript from the University of South Florida.

The documents needed to fake the credentials were being offered Monday for up to $356, but were off the site Tuesday after a Tampa Tribune article about the fake diplomas.

USF officials said several people called Monday to alert the school and that eBay was asked to look into the matter.

"People study many years to earn the degree they have," said USF police Sgt. Mike Klingebiel. "It's horrendous for someone to belittle the value of a degree by selling them over the Internet."

Selling fake diplomas is a second-degree misdemeanor punishable by less than a year in jail and less than a $1,000 fine.

The documents initially were offered on eBay for $50 by a seller in Milford, Conn.

The price rose to $356 after 17 bids, but it was not clear whether money changed hands or whether documents were delivered, said Kevin Pursglove, a spokesman for eBay.

The seller told the newspaper he was only offering blank documents and transcripts designed to look like the USF documents, and noted on the Web site offer that the documents were "for novelty purposes" only.

Angelo Lelekis, 23, a recent USF graduate, was among those who notified the university about the offer. He said he did so because it made him mad.

"I think you should earn your degree," he said.

_ From staff and wire reports