Tracking the Web Content on Essay-Selling Sites

essay

There has been a steady increase in the online trade of buying essays. Many a website are selling essay writing services to students who are unwilling to put in the work required to earn a degree. But in doing so, these students are not only hampering their own growth but also affecting the job prospects of those students who put in the hard work to earn their degrees.

By making the purchase of essays more prevalent, these students decrease the worth of degrees from their institutions. If this goes on, soon degrees from American and British universities will lose their prestige and value.

Two weeks ago, BBC ran an investigation into popular YouTubers who advertised an essay writing service for cash. YouTube finally took action but the fact that it required a BBC report to prompt an action shows that YouTube doesn’t prioritize protecting its’ gullible young audience.

Around the same time as the release of the BBC report, Media Prober received information about how the essay selling websites are set up. A source who asked us to conceal his identify shared with us names of the websites he had worked for as an intermediary.

This source whom we shall refer to as ‘Al’ was one of the intermediaries between the essay site operators and the people who wrote its’ content.

Al works as an intermediary between the website owners and service providers who provide services such as SEO and web content writing for websites. Once the service providers finish their tasks, Al receives the payment of which he keeps a certain percentage.

So in the end, the actual web content writer or SEO specialist is paid only a fraction of the total cost of a job. Collectively intermediaries get the biggest cut.

With regards to websites that are in the illegal business of selling essays for direct submission, Al worked on the following websites as an intermediary:

CowBoyPaper.com

EssayBison.com

EssaySite.com

LimeEssay.com

The evidence shared with Media Prober shows there were a few links between the above websites. It is possible that all of them belong to the same group of operators, who are targeting mainly the audiences in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.

These sites are managed through ‘colo’ (colocation), which means that the server space being used is rented. So it appears as if the host location of these sites is the United States.

Though these sites claim to have ‘expert and professional writers with a wealth of knowledge and a passion for sharing information‘, they apparently needed outside help to write their own web content. That alone should be deterrent for students looking to cut corners.

Al received a Google document file that contained keywords, headings, and phrases to use as well as provided links to sample content.

Media Prober was able to link the keyword research files to the same source, which implies a connection between these sites.

Here are screenshots of a few of these files:

File 1 titled ‘Essay Help‘:

don't buy essays

File 2 titled ‘Write My Dissertation‘:

don't buy essays

File 3 titled ‘Custom Essay Writing Service‘:

don't buy essays ever

There were a whole host of files that we received but we have chosen to disclose only some and hand over others to relevant authorities.

How were the above documents used?

Upon receiving these files from the website operators, Al passed this information to an intermediary, who in turn passed them to other intermediaries until it reached someone who drafted the web content. Once the content was written, it passed through the same loop backward until it reached the website operators.

Al made $20 and estimates the person directly in touch with the website operator must have made $50.

Al is from South Eastern Asia where he says that jobs like these are a common practice. He disclosed that there is a huge market of essay sellers in Pakistan and India with ties to writers in Nigeria.

Some of them operate these sites as if they were located in the United States to show credibility. When an order is placed on the website, the website operators post on freelance sites like Upwork and Fiverr as well as on social media networks like Facebook.

After receiving tons of responses, they select a writer who writes the essay but gets only 1/4th of the total price that students pay.

The aggressive keywords used in the research file show that the aim of these sites is not to provide guidance on a subject matter but rather to sell poorly written essays for submission.

The quality of these essays is very low. Al shared some with Media Prober and most of them had either plagiarised or ‘spun’ content. Spun content is when a bot replaces words with synonyms so the essay passes a plagiarism test. These essay writers had a poor command of the language and their essays did not have quality expected of a university essay.

Furthermore, these websites also have Ph.D. dissertation and thesis writing services but Al did not have anything on this subject to share with Media Prober.

Over the next few days, Media Prober will publish more data on this topic.

A few thoughts…

If you are a student, you should understand that websites that sell essays for direct submission are fraudsters who exploit the stress of student life. Their aim is only to make a quick buck with no concern for your future. Most colleges and universities prohibit buying essays online and could disqualify you from appearing in exams for years on end.

The stress of student life isn’t without its’ merits. It helps you create a coping mechanism that will assist you in your professional life. Knowing how to keep a calm head in a stressful situation, look up and analyze information is a skill that will determine your success. By cutting corners and looking for an easy way out, you are suppressing growth that accompanies challenges and adversity.

Editor’s note: If you are a journalist or represent a regulatory authority and would like to have access to the material pertaining to essay selling sites, get in touch with us through our contact page.

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