Thursday, May 21, 2015

Fake Diplomas: Too Good to Be True

An example of a fake diploma issued by one of Axact's
fictitious schools, Grant Town University.
Earning a diploma for high school, college, and especially for a doctoral program requires a lot of work and a lot of time. You can’t just buy a diploma—or can you? A recent New York Times article discusses some allegations made against Axact, a Pakistani software company. Former employees of Axact and complaints from victims throughout the world accuse Axact of operating a massive diploma mill scheme by secretly operating websites for over 370 fictitious high schools, colleges, and universities which lure people in by promising them a good education and diplomas from accredited schools. The websites all look professional and appear to be from a real university. There are even phone numbers to call and people waiting to answer questions through online chat sessions. Several of the fictitious universities even have similar names to respected universities (i.e., Barkley, Columbiana, Grant Town), and the bank accounts for all of these schools funnel back to Axact, according to The New York Times.

While some people who received their diplomas from Axact universities admitted to knowing all along that it was fake, many innocent victims of this fraud thought they were signing up for a legitimate online university to receive course materials, tests, and eventually degrees in their respective fields. However, after paying their fees and receiving diplomas, they were badgered with threatening phone calls that their diplomas would be useless without purchasing additional certificates for the degrees to be recognized abroad. One victim is reported to have paid over $400,000 for fake diplomas and certificates.

Axact - headquartered in Karachi, Pakistan
While some former employees have stepped forward, Axact continues to deny allegations and has threatened reporters, local Pakistani bloggers, and others with legal action in an attempt to remove attention from the matter. What will happen to Axact remains to be seen, but it appears that fraudsters will always find another niche (i.e., fictitious diplomas) to exploit and cheat people throughout the world out of millions of dollars.

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