More than two dozen people were charged for alleged participation in a wire fraud scheme that created an illegal licensing and employment shortcut for nursing candidates following an investigation launched by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) and law enforcement in January 2023.

The investigation, nicknamed “Operation Nightingale,” found that a group of individuals engaged in a scheme to sell fraudulent nursing degree diplomas and transcripts from accredited Florida-based nursing schools to people seeking licenses and jobs as RNs and practical/vocational nurses (LPN/VNs). The fake diplomas and transcripts qualified purchasers to sit for the national nursing board exam and obtain licenses and jobs in various states as RNs and LPN/VNs after passing the exam. In total, 25 individuals were charged for distributing more than 7,600 fake nursing diplomas through the scheme.

“The alleged selling and purchasing of nursing diplomas and transcripts to willing but unqualified individuals is a crime that potentially endangers the health and safety of patients and insults the honorable profession of nursing,” Omar Pérez Aybar, special agent in charge at HHS-OIG, said. “In coordination with our law enforcement partners, HHS-OIG continues to aggressively investigate bad actors who so brazenly disregard the well-being of others in order to enrich themselves fraudulently.”