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Hundreds of Britons and Americans are still being ripped off by fake degrees from Pakistan
By: Barfi Culture Team
Published: 16th January 2018

It has emerged that hundreds of Britons and Americans are still being sold fake degrees by a Pakistani company, two years after an investigation was launched by authorities there.

Axact claims to be the 'world's leading IT company' on its website. But an indepth investigation by the New York Times in 2015 showed how it was making millions by selling fake degrees around the world.

It seems Axact is still doing that, according to a BBC Radio 4 programme to be aired tonight at 8pm.

The NYT investigation found: "At Axact’s headquarters, former employees say, telephone sales agents work in shifts around the clock. Sometimes they cater to customers who clearly understand that they are buying a shady instant degree for money. But often the agents manipulate those seeking a real education, pushing them to enroll for coursework that never materializes, or assuring them that their life experiences are enough to earn them a diploma."

"To boost profits, the sales agents often follow up with elaborate ruses, including impersonating American government officials, to persuade customers to buy expensive certifications or authentication documents."

One example is the non-existent Baychester University (screenshot above), which has no address listed and only a phone number. A number that redirects to a call-center in Karachi.

In this way, experts told the NYT, Axact made several million dollars per month.

The case turned out to be bigger than expected. As Pakistan's DAWN reported, Axact allegedly took money from at least 215,000 people in 197 countries. Its CEO Shoaib Shaikh was alleged to be the owner of several shell companies in the U.S. and other tax havens.

Pakistani authorities eventually arrested over 16 senior executives in 2015 for allegedly preparing and selling fake accreditation online.

Many of the company's victims were in Britain and the United States.

The BBC has found that Axact sold around 3,000 fake qualifications to buyers in the UK in 2013 and 2014, "including master's degrees, doctorates and PhDs".

One consultant in paediatric emergency medicine , who bought a "master of science in health care technology," told the BBC it was an "utter surprise" it was a fake.

The BBC report also alleges that Axact continues to launch fake online universities and that it has moved into extortion and blackmail.

"You get a telephone call that looks like it's coming from your embassy or local law enforcement, threatening to arrest or deport you unless you get some additional documents to help support the phony diploma you already have. We've never seen that before," Allan Ezell tells the BBC.

It's not illegal to buy fake accreditation in the UK, but using one to apply for a job is 'fraud by misrepresentation' and can lead to 10 years in jail.

File on 4: Degrees of Deception will be on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday 16 January at 8pm GMT


Article published on 16th January 2018 in the Crime section




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