Hindustan Times (Jalandhar)

BRI­TONS BOUGHT THOU­SANDS OF BO­GUS DE­GREES FROM PAK FIRM

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IS­LAM­ABAD: Ax­act, a Karachibas­ed 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 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 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.

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.

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