An investigation by the BBC has exposed some fake online universities selling fraudulent degrees.
File on Four programme, Degrees of Deception, on Radio 4 revealed that the fake online universities were set up by a multi-million pound ‘diploma mill’ in Pakistan.
NHS consultants, nurses and a defence contractor are said to be among those who have purchased the fake degrees. One British buyer had spent almost £500,000 on the fake documents.
According to a report by Zoe Drewett on Metro, hundreds of fake online universities are being run from a call centre in Karachi, Pakistan, by a company named Axact, which claims to be the ‘world’s largest IT company’.
The universities are given names like Brooklyn Park University and Nixon University, with websites set up featruing stock photos of smiling students.
Some had even created fake news articles about the institution’s successes.
Investigations showed Axact made more than $51million in 2015 by selling more than 215,000 fake qualifications, through 350 fictitious high schools and universities.
That same year, New York Times exposed the Axact’s criminal activities and its chief executive was arrested and an investigation launched by the Pakistani authorities.
Senior manager Umair Hamid was sentenced to 21 months in a US prison in August 2017 for his part in Axact’s fraud.
Yet the Pakistani investigation has ground to a halt amid claims of government corruption.
An FBI investigation has found Axact continue to launch new online universities all the time – and has now branched out into extortion and blackmail.
Cecil Horner, a British engineer based in Saudi Arabia, was still getting threatening calls from Axact agents after paying nearly £500,000 for fake documents.
Mr Horner’s son Malcolm said he believed his father, who died in 2015, bought the qualifications because of the fear of losing his job.