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Justice Department officials shut down a massive crime ring that peddled thousands of fake nursing degrees.

The DOJ said nursing students with deep pockets paid for fake diplomas from accredited schools in order to get RN licensure.

The feds said the scheme involved 7,600 fraudulent nursing diplomas from accredited nursing schools.

The DOJ told ABC News that the massive fraud jeopardized patients’ health and safety.

“This is probably one of the most brazen schemes that I’ve seen. And it does shock the mind,” Omar Perez Aybar, Special Agent in Charge, told ABC News in an exclusive interview.

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Investigators spent weeks combing through over 10,000 records from nursing schools to determine if students actually completed the course work.

“As we started to poke through them we noticed there were no real courses the individuals took — it was simply a cash mill,” Aybar told ABC News.

Federal law enforcement officials alleged that individuals in leadership roles at nursing schools “recruited students who sought nursing credentials to gain employment as Registered Nurses (RN) or Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses (LPN/VN).”

Aybar said the co-conspirators distributed fake “diplomas and transcripts” to falsely represent that the aspiring nurses had attended the program and had completed the necessary courses to receive a diploma, when “in fact, the aspiring nurses had never actually completed the necessary courses and clinicals.”

Nursing students paid as much as $10,000 — and sometimes more — for the fraudulent diplomas, Aybar said.

“For them, it was worth the investment, or the risk,” he said.

Aybar said nursing schools and hospitals have been contacted to weed out the fraudulent nurses. But the wheels of justice turn slowly.

He encouraged good nurses to snitch on their fellow nurses and turn them in to the feds.

“I encourage those of you — if you’re in a [clinical] setting and you happen to have someone that may not be practicing up to the standards as you understand it, maybe if you see something, say something,” he said.