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Tue 19 May 2015 11:24 AM

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UAE residents caught in million-dollar, global fake degree scam

A New York Times expose claims a Pakistani media company has made tens of millions of dollars selling fake degrees to dozens of fictitious universities

UAE residents caught in million-dollar, global fake degree scam
(Getty Images)

UAE residents have allegedly bought fake university certificates from a Pakistani media company accused of a global fake degrees scam that has netted it tens of millions of dollars.

The New York Times has claimed in an expose this week that the company Axact, based in Karachi with 2,000 employees, has run a fake education empire that involved paid actors promoting fictitious universities and fake US State Department authentication certifications with the signature of US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The company created a series of websites involving “professors” and students who were in fact paid actors and employees who would plant fictitious reports about Axact “universities” on CNN iReport, a website for citizen journalism, the New York Times said.

Clients from the US, UK and the UAE were cited as having had paid sums ranging from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars for their degrees, believing the universities were real and they would soon receive coursework.

The NYT quoted former Axact employees and more than 370 websites of fake universities, accreditation bodies and other purported institutions.

Axact which is planning this year to launch a news channel named Bol and has already hired many of Pakistan’s top TV anchors and journalists, with reportedly the highest salaries in the market, used social media and its own website to deny any wrongdoing.

A message on its website declared the story “baseless, substandard, maligning, defamatory, and based on false accusations” and added it would sue the New York Times.

It accused domestic media rivals of colluding with the New York Times to plant a slanderous story in order to harm its business interests.

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Mosa 4 years ago

Fraud is wrong - yes. But a lot of blame has to go to the corporate culture and private sector industries who give so much extreme significance to a sheet of paper rather than practical knowledge and experience, which is why even the most experienced and skilled employee has to adapt to such unlawful methods to obtain a document to get the job/promotion.

The culture needs to get relaxed, experience and knowledge needs to be valued more than a sheet of paper.

Ofcourse, professions like medical, engineering, science etc do need genuine certifications-those cant be ignored. But general fields - should be more relaxed

Expat in UAE 4 years ago

A lie is a lie and a fraud is a fraud

No reason or justification can make it look less "bad" ....

Doug 4 years ago

But Mosa, how do you PROVE to a potential employer that you have that knowledge? This is precisely why qualifications exist - they are supposed to act as a benchmark and proof you have the skills required. Of course the knowledge is valued more than the piece of paper but if two people show up for interview claiming they know how to manufacture widgets, and one of them has a piece of a paper from the Institute of Widgets saying they have a first class degree in widget manufacturing, and the other person doesn't, I'm going to trust the person with the piece of paper.

Relaxing entry requirements is not the answer - the answer is having firm checks and balances to ensure that the qualification is lawfully obtained.

Besides, if a person has no qualms committing fraud to get a job...what chance have you got of trusting them once they're in the job?

Mosa 4 years ago

Again, like I said already, professions in the science, finance, medical, engineering industry - definitely need to have workers with genuine degrees and knowledge, that cannot be ignored.

What I was talking about was general areas like administration, sales, operations, procurement and likes, these are fields where experience matters more which the employers can test easily through interviews, but yet they focus more on degrees - irrespective of the individuals knowledge or capacity.

Out of 10, we can find 6-7 people who have opinions about senior employees sitting on senior positions with knowledge as average as a high school graduate, but has the position just because he/she has the PAPER, this in my opinion is wrong.

And this is why the majority of the fraud takes place.
As soon as the focus shifts to practical experience and knowledge - the fraud rates will drop instantly, and people would rather look into being educated seriously by taking up full time courses

tfg 4 years ago

Got a few of those calls in previous years with the heavily accented South Asians pretending to be calling from the US or UK.

I play along as dumb as the people working in the scamming call center, then turn to profanity, always ends hilarious.

Awareness must be raised to the desperate and potential victims, if its too good to be true, it probably isn't....