Probe reveals diploma mill’s bogus antics
A Marketplace investigation of the world’s largest diploma mill has discovered many Canadians could be putting their health and wellbeing in the hands of nurses, engineers, counsellors and other professionals with phoney credentials.
According to experts, fake diplomas are a billion-dollar industry. Marketplace obtained business records of its biggest player, a Pakistanbased IT firm called Axact. The team spent months combing through thousands of degree transactions, cross referencing personal information with customers’ social media profiles.
The investigation uncovered more than 800 people across Canada could have purchased fake degrees.
Axact’s school websites are slick, with names like Harvey University, Barkley University and Nixon University, that give the supposed U.S.based schools an air of Ivy League authenticity.
There are hundreds of Axact-linked schools that offer a range of educational opportunities with faculty ready to assist 24/7. Some schools even have a degree verification department for any third-party requesting transcripts or proof of attendance.
None of the schools has a physical address, faculty photos are often stock images, and even the accreditation bodies the websites cite are fake.
With the help of former employees, court documents, and by piecing together digital clues online, Marketplace was able to identify more than 100 fake online schools and accreditation bodies connected to Axact.
To see what it takes to get a fake degree, Marketplace — using the anagram Peter Ma Lack — decided to purchase a PhD in biblical counselling from Almeda University.
Qualifying for a PhD wasn’t difficult. Lack provided Almeda University’s Professor Keith Evans a backstory over the phone detailing his work experience and past education.
“Axact does not own or operate any online education web sites [sic] or schools,” said Axact’s US lawyer Todd A. Holleman in a written response.
Watch the full CBC Marketplace investigation tonight at 8 p.m. on CBC.
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