Owning an e-mail address from an educational institution can have lots of benefits. There are a number of discounts that companies only offer to those with .edu accounts. For example, you can get a cheaper version of Amazon Prime, access to Windows 7 and 8 developer accounts and discounts from Apple and Dell, just to name a few.
These discounts are on top of the wealth of online resources and academic databases offered by the school that your address is linked to.
The problem is that, unless you’re actively enrolled in an institution of higher education, you can’t get a .edu e-mail address… or, not legally, anyway.
As Gizmodo points out, researchers from Palo Alto Networks recently discovered a wealth of stolen and fake .edu e-mail addresses for sale on China’s largest online marketplace, Taobao. What’s even more interesting, however, is the fact that sellers aren’t even hiding the fact that their offerings are stolen. Heck, they even offer up tips for buyers to avoid getting caught.
The name of the school attached to addresses for sale dictates pricing. Someone seeking out an account from a prestigious university like Harvard can expect to pay nearly $400 while other lesser-known school addresses can be had for as little as 16 cents.
Taobao has removed some of the more obvious listings but many still remain. Some sellers even allow buyers to create their own custom .edu address.