Some time back, I had a rather large thread on the issue of frauds and a sokey dokey organizations awarding inflated ranks. A result was a section I have put up on my web site here: http://members.cox.net/aikidoc1/ChoosingInstructor.htm
. All things being said, there is some reasonable advice in the section that should keep most people out of such schools.
It's so easy to make yourself look impressive.
1. High rank-awarded by someone of high rank-whether fraud or not.
2. Use misleading terms: aikikai, hombu, shihan, etc. Even if you use them in such a way they are technically accurate, they can be made to sound or make you sound impressive.
3. Secret stuff-the military connection, secret or non-verifiable instructors.
4. Lots of awards-it doesn't matter the source. Just post them on your website.
I could go on and on on this one.
My recommendation. It's your hard earned money, spend the time to check out what you are buying.