Companies like Edubirdie offer platforms for academic cheating, connecting freelance essay-writers with desperate students who pay hundreds of dollars to have their academic papers ghostwritten for them. Edubirdie has recruited customers with on-campus "epic parties" which offered organizers $250, along with branded cups and a standee with the company's mascot, in exchange for posting five or more photos of students posed with the standee and hashtagged with #EduBirdieParty. The organizer whose party that received the most attention would get $3,000 and a 2-hour DJ set.
It's just one of the many techniques used by the cheating platforms to drum up business, including running deceptive "study groups": a recruiter posing as a student will post notices offering a "study group" for people struggling with an assignment, and when students call in to join, they're given a hard-sell to pay for ghostwritten essays.
Some students are offered major discounts on cheating services in exchange for providing a photo or screenshot of their class email lists.
One former ghostwriter who spoke to Ed Surge says that the majority of his customers were not spoiled rich kids (he says these were 15% of his business), but rather struggling students, especially adults who had returned to university, or foreign students with poor English language skills.
Edubirdie claims it doesn't facilitate cheating, but the testimonials on its site come from customers who describe how cheating with Edubirdie freelancers saved their grades.
Morgan, the spokesperson for EduBirdie, says the company no longer sponsors parties, but she defended the practice. "We sponsored a few parties in the past, but have moved on to focus on other efforts," she says. "We do not believe that this is an aggressive service. There is no requirement for students to use the platform, but instead gives students an opportunity to have fun while they are young and in college, while merely educating them about EduBirdie's services, which can be helpful in proofreading especially during busy seasons like midterms and finals."
Just last year the company posted a job ad for an employee who would be in charge of social-media outreach and for hosting events at colleges to raise awareness of the essay-writing service. The job title was "Glory Days Conservation Specialist," and the ad apparently sought someone who wanted to relive their party days of college in a full-time job, according to an article in CNBC.
How the 'Contract Cheating' Industry Has Gotten More Aggressive in Recruiting Students [Jeffrey R Young/Ed Surge]