Pakistan Company Made Millions Selling Fake Degrees Online, Report SaysKARACHI, Pakistan, May 18 (UPI) — A Pakistan company selling fake academic degrees across 370 websites has earned millions of dollars from unsuspecting consumers.
Karachi-based Axact, founded in 1997, has lured degree-seekers with falsified endorsements on CNN iReport and even forged State Department documents with John Kerry’s signature, The New York Times reported Sunday.
The fraudulent websites for fictional U.S. universities and high schools have employed paid actors to be featured in videos to play professors and satisfied students – and the degrees have no real accreditation.
In a digital age when the online education industry is growing exponentially, Axact is employing more than 2,000 people to sell fake degrees in fields such as nursing and engineering.
The company touts itself as Pakistan’s largest software exporter, and The Times reported it gives employees perks that rival firms in Silicon Valley – including a swimming pool and a yacht.
Axact has accused The Times of devising “half-cooked stories and conspiracy theories,” but Yasir Jamshaid, a former Axact employee, confirmed that Axact is not a university and the firm is “all about the money.”
The company’s pursuit of profit in one case caused one unwary Indian accountant in the United Arab Emirates to spiral into $30,000 of debt.
Educated telemarketers in Pakistan, fluent in English and Arabic, persuaded the man to pay $3,300 for an 18-month online master’s program in business administration at Axact’s “Grant Town University.”
The man, identified only as Mohan, received a tablet computer in the mail but no coursework or assignments. He was harassed for months to pay more, including for an English-language training certification issued by Axact, and later for a certificate containing a forged signature of John Kerry. By October, Mohan said he was $30,000 in debt.
Forbes reported the Pakistan company has managed to continue operations by using legal retaliations and a complex network of offshore corporations beyond the reach of Pakistan’s legal system.