Expert Warns of 5 Online Training Scams   

as the Online Learning Market Booms


  • Self-isolation has caused a boom in online courses
  • Accreditation expert warns of 5 dangers in unaccredited online courses
  • Expert gives advice on how to choose a reputable course
  • Her accreditation organisation, The CPD Standards Office, has seen a sharp rise in online coaches and trainers looking for accreditation since Coronavirus

Prior to the CV outbreak, Forbes recently forecast that e:learning market would be worth £325 billion by 2025. This is likely to treble over the next 12 months as increasing numbers of training and coaching providers generate new online learning experiences.   However, as with all new opportunities, scammers are already active in the training market selling fake online courses.

Online learning now come in many shapes and sizes, gone are the days of long standalone e:learning courses comprised of an individual flicking through a slide deck with a monotone voice-over.  The market is now overflowing with training webinars, podcasts, virtual classroom streaming and one-to-one coaching. Differentiating between the different offerings is extremely difficult, where there are 5 common scams to watch out for:

Scam no 1: Non existent Colleges & Courses

The word ‘college’ is unprotected so anyone can set up an online educational college, where in reality it does not exist. One scam involves creating a site, charging you for a course, and then never delivering the product. 


Scam no 2:  Cloak & Dagger Sales Presentations 

Some online training will actually be a cloak and dagger product that actually tries to sell you another product or service.  When you are choosing online training, you need to look for courses that provide at least 4-8 learning objectives or learning outcomes. 


Scam no 3:  Fake Qualifications 

It is easy to fall foul of scammers who promise professional qualifications that meet the Dept of Education’s National Educational Framework.  Scammers can easily hook you by selling a course, but failing to materialise the professional certificate or licence.   


Scam no 4:  Promises of Employment 

Another hoax tactic often used are promises of employment.  For example, a provider selling a course that guarantees work, or a set of clients at the end of the programme.  In this case, the course is not the problem, it’s just that the ££ promised at the end does not materialise. 


Scam no 5:  The Online Course is a Primer for a More Expensive Course

As online course content is completely shielded until you have paid your money, some scammers put together a very short overview course – which is not worth the money you’ve paid for it – only to then promote a longer, more expensive course. 


So how do you choose a reliable and reputable online training provider?  And which delivery channel should you engage in?

This busy market stems from the fact that the barriers to entry are low; online platforms are easy to populate and promote learning content is easy on social media and internet ads. Hence it is easy for opportunist cowboys to enter the market undetected, and profess that their online offering is comparable to that of a true expert.   Given the online training market is starting to flood, it has never been more important to ensure that your online learning has been verified by a 3rd party training certification.

What is online learning verification?  The CPD Standards Office ( ) is unique as the only service that offers an official recognition for online and digital learning experiences.  As a pioneering, global leader in accreditation, the Office awards training providers, professional coaches and education organisations with formal CPD and Training Excellence verification.  Having worked with 100’s of providers over the past decade, we have been able to sort ‘the wheat from the chaff’, providing clear signposting to outstanding, high-quality learning experiences that deliver real impact and ensure learners achieve their objectives.


If you buy ‘dodgy’ online learning that has not been externally verified, you may fall foul by purchasing something that is actually selling you a product or service leaving you frustrated that it didn’t actually teach you what was advertised.  Alternatively, these learning experiences may also be padded out with outdated information, or incorrect material, and again – how do you know if the provider really has experience and credence in their given field.

Amanda Rosewarne, CEO of The CPD Standards Office says:

‘Self-isolation has now created a new trend for regular engagement in online learning. Yet with so many new providers entering the online learning market, it has become the new wild-west, where learners can easily be hooked by cowboys.  Over the past few weeks, all sorts of new online learning has been created, the need for external validation of this market has never been greater. It is critical that genuine providers seek accreditation to ensure that their products stand head and shoulders above the rest, and that learners are not hook-winked by cowboys’.

Throughout this time of uncertainty, the CPD Standards Office is providing ongoing support, collaboration and guidance for those in the training industry.

With discounted access to our accreditation services, we are endeavouring to be a guardian of the online training market, raising awareness of scams and bad practice.

Wherever possible, we are promoting training that has been verified and formally awarded third party accreditation, and offers outstanding learning experiences.


For comment or interview, contact: Amanda Rosewarne, CEO of The CPD Standards Office

07903 502067

Editors Notes:

Founder: Amanda Rosewarne

Company founded: 2012

Twitter: @cpdstandards



Mission statement: The CPD Standards Office campaigns for excellence in lifelong learning, and works to verify educational experiences providing proof its learning you can trust.

Why the company was founded:

Following the largest academic research study on CPD in 2010, led by Amanda Rosewarne (who has a background in occupational psychology), the findings showed that the quality of different learning experiences varied enormously.  It demonstrated a clear need for the establishment of independent verification standards, that would provide third-party reassurance that an educational experience was relevant and of high quality

Biggest success to date:

Over the past decade, the organisation has become a global brand accrediting providers in over 40 counties.  We have worked with 100’s of training, education and coaching providers across all industries including Rolls Royce, Google, the NHS, Pitman Training & The Open University. The CPD Standards Office accreditation awards are highly respected by Governments, professional institutes and regulatory bodies.