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Contract Cheating in Alberta: Quick Facts

Quick facts about contract cheating in Alberta, Canada – 1 page downloadable resource

  • Other terms used to refer to this industry have been “term paper mills”, “essay mills”, “academic consultation services”, or “academic research services”. It is an illicit industry whose main business is providing the means for students to engage in academic misconduct by doing school work on behalf of the student. “Contract cheating” is now the preferred term worldwide.
  • Contract cheating services have been operating for decades. The first known media coverage about term paper mills in Alberta appeared in the Calgary Herald on February 24, 1972.
  • The contract cheating industry is valued at over $15 Billion USD.
  • This is a predatory industry. In 2021 the Better Business Bureau issued a scam alert about contract cheating companies that engage in extortion and blackmail of students who use their services. The industry shares some parallels with organized crime.
  • The Alberta Council on Academic Integrity estimates that over 7,000 Alberta post-secondary students are lured in by contract cheating companies every year. These companies advertise to students as homework help. Their websites look legitimate which can be both confusing and tempting for students.
  • Nearly all textbook answer keys and exam bank solutions can be found on these websites. Most instructor-created assignments and suggested solutions can be found within a week of the assignment being released.
  • Currently no data exist about the number of students in Alberta who are subjected to extortion or blackmail by contract cheating companies. We have anecdotal reports that students at many of Alberta’s post-secondary institutions have been subjected to extortion.
  • Contract cheating is not currently illegal in Canada. It is illegal in several US states, Australia, and New Zealand. It is illegal for contract cheating companies to advertise their services in Ireland. Legislation has been tabled in the UK to make contract cheating illegal there.
  • Although contract cheating companies face no consequences for providing these services, students who are caught often face severe sanctions.
  • The Alberta Council on Academic Integrity provides education and advocacy around contract cheating in our province.


Better Business Bureau. (2021, April 2). BBB Scam Alert: Cheating on homework leads to extortion scam.

Eaton, S. E. (2021, June 22). Contract Cheating in Canada: How it Started and How it’s Going. Paper presented at the Canadian Symposium on Academic Integrity (CSAI) 2021 (Online), Thompson Rivers University, Kamloops, BC, Canada.

Grue, D., Eaton, S. E., & Boisvert, S. (2021). Parallels Between the Contract Cheating Industry and Organized Crime.

Download this resource as a 1-page handout:ACAI Contract Cheating in Alberta- Quick Facts (2021-09)

Cite this resource as:

Eaton, S. E., & Boisvert, S. (2021, September). Contract Cheating in Alberta: Quick Facts. Alberta Council on Academic Integrity: Contract Cheating Working Group.


Author: Sarah Elaine Eaton, Ph.D.

Faculty member, Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary - I am passionate about learning, teaching and ethics.

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