When magistrates in the Calabrian city of Consenza heard how dozens of university students had managed the seemingly impossible by getting 100 per cent scores in seven exams in a single day, they knew it was probably too good to be true.
Three staff and two students at the University of Calabria are now facing indictments for corruption.
Prosecutor Antonio Tridico said some students, "anxious to graduate without having to make too much effort", contacted department staff with dodgy reputations, who, allegedly for a fee, had devised a simple system for producing fraudulent degrees.
Many of the recipients had used the degrees to obtain prized jobs in the civil service.
The university did not respond to requests for comment.