UK nationals bought thousands of bogus degrees from Pakistani firm Axact

Karachi-based software firm Axact allegedly duped thousands of British nationals who bought fake degrees from its diploma mill in Pakistan.

world Updated: Jan 16, 2018 20:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Islamabad
Axact,Pakistan,diploma mill
Axact, which claims to be the world’s largest IT company, operates hundreds of fake online universities.(Reuters File)

Axact, a Karachi-based software firm accused of amassing millions of dollars through an internet degree scam, allegedly duped thousands of British nationals who bought fake degrees from its diploma mill in Pakistan, BBC reported on Tuesday.

Buyers included NHS consultants, nurses and a large defence contractor, and one British buyer spent almost £500,000 on bogus documents, an investigation by BBC Radio 4 has revealed.

The UK education department has said it is taking “decisive action to crack down on degree fraud” that “cheats genuine learners”.

The degree scam was first exposed in 2015 by The New York Times, which reported that hundreds of fake universities and schools run by the software company had raked in millions of dollars by selling fake documents to people around the world, including Indians based in the Middle East.

The expose was followed by a crackdown by Pakistani authorities but no one has been prosecuted as yet within the country. A Pakistani man arrested in the US pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to commit wire fraud and was sent to prison for 21 months.

Axact, which claims to be the world’s largest IT company, operates hundreds of fake online universities with names such as Brooklyn Park University and Nixon University that are run by agents from a Karachi call centre, BBC reported.

Documents seen by BBC showed more than 3,000 fake Axact qualifications were sold to UK-based buyers in 2013 and 2014, including master’s degrees, doctorates and PhDs. NHS clinical staff, including an ophthalmologist, nurses, a psychologist, and numerous consultants bought fake degrees.

Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD) chief executive Jayne Rowley said only 20% of UK employers ran proper checks on applicants’ qualifications. Purchasing a fake diploma is not illegal in the UK but using one to apply for a job constitutes fraud by misrepresentation and could result in a 10-year prison term.

Defence contractor FB Heliservices bought fake Axact degrees for seven employees, including two helicopter pilots, between 2013 and 2015.

In 2015, Axact sold more than 215,000 fake qualifications globally through some 350 fictitious high schools and universities, making $51million that year alone.

First Published: Jan 16, 2018 20:20 IST