One of the hazards of becoming an occult student is the non-zero chance that you might join a bad occult group and/or end up following a bad occult teacher. Newer students of the occult traditions are often less cautious than they should be. They tend to only notice the flash and the bang without seeing the gutters and the harsh realities of the esoteric world. Part of the flash and bang that they gravitate to are occult teachers claiming large amounts of occult mastery. Often the only proof of the teacher’s mastery will be their claim of [such] a grade and degree from famous [Named] group, a proof that a gullible student will bite hook, line, and sinker on.
The logic goes as follows: The [Named] Order says that undergoing [such] initiation ritual after doing [such and such] work makes one [such] Grade and degree; the leader of [Named] Order claims to be [such] Grade and degree—therefore, the leader must have done [such and such] work and undergone [such] initiation ritual.
The logic would be sound if all esoteric leaders actually had to be certified by something like a national certification board or by people who were advanced experts in the occult traditions. Unfortunately, many occult teachers are not certified; no, all they have to do is to claim such certification and have enough flash and bang, and they can attract enough attention and gullible students to make it worthwhile for them to continue the scam (whether the teacher is after ego stroking, money, sex, or simply control over other people).
The poor student of the esoteric traditions has to contend with teachers who have slept their way into Grades, teachers who have bullied their way into higher Grades, teachers who have provided a “valuable service” and was promoted without doing any actual Grade work, those who have summoned demons and then declared themselves Adepts, those who have crowbarred degrees from other groups into the Grades of other system (for instance, people claiming that the Master Mason degree from Freemasonry equals the Adept Minor Grade of Golden Dawn), those who claim that they made contact with Secret Chiefs and patron spirits, and those who are simply liars. At best, there are those occult teachers who know their stuff despite their slimy way of attaining their high degree and grade. At worst, the student is following someone who has not done any of the prerequisite work and has never undergone a single initiation ritual.
How does such a teacher run an occult group? Sometimes, all they need to do is keep up the act, and polish up some bullshit that they issue as lessons; this works just fine for those students who are merely searching for some comfort and confirmation. Other leaders, ones stuck with more serious students, put their most advanced students into positions of low authority to act as proctors and tutors to the lesser advanced students. In fact, this is the ideal for both the bad teacher and the less advanced students; the only ones that suffer in such a case are the more advanced students who find themselves in an awkward position---often the more advanced student will feel an obligations towards the lesser students, causing them to stuck around while having less time and energy for their own work; both of which helps make it less likely that the more advanced students will splinter off and create their own esoteric groups.