Home Global Village Axact back in the limelight over fake degrees scandal

Axact back in the limelight over fake degrees scandal

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News Analysis |

Pakistan based IT company Axact came back into the limelight after the BBC exposed a fake degrees scandal on Tuesday. The BBC report revealed that more than 3000 fake degrees were sold to UK based buyers by Axact in 2013 and 2014. The degrees were sold to various National Health Service (NHS) workers, nurses and defense consultants. In 2015, Axact sold 215,000 qualifications globally through 370 fictitious websites and made more than 50 million dollars in one year.

Legally, buying fake degrees is allowed in the UK, but using them professionally counts as fraud and can be punished by getting up to 10 years in prison. While, there are many people who know that they are buying counterfeit degrees, there are also a significant number of people who have been genuinely manipulated through various fake websites and news reviews.

Axact may not operate within Pakistan but the responsibility of investigations lies with Pakistan, investigating about the Axact case will help authorities get insight about the working of other degree mills and may prove helpful to expose them.

Axact operates 370 fictitious websites which includes 145 sites for fictitious universities, 41 for high schools, 18 for fake accreditation boards, and 121 degree portals. The BBC reports that Axact operates differently from other degree mills, in that they not only sell the fake degrees to their customers, but they allege that they also call them as law enforcement agencies, and blackmail the buyers for extra money if they don’t want their degrees to be rejected.

Read more: Tale of two Cases; Axact & Ayyan Ali

The Axact scandal was initially exposed by The New York Times on 17th May 2015. The NYT wrote an article on Axact, exposing its elaborate degree scam in which people were tricked into joining fake online courses for bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. Many fake websites, news articles and videos were created to fool the public. And many people paid hefty sums for fake degrees.

The existence of degree mills is a big issue throughout the world; many employees in Pakistan have also acquired their services. Today, the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan has ordered the arrest of all police officials with fake degrees.

After the scandal came to light, Pakistani authorities raided Axact offices in Karachi and Islamabad. On 26th May 2015, Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh was arrested on the charges of alleged fraud, extortion and money laundering. However, the charges of money laundering were dropped because of lack of evidence. He was released on bail on 2nd September 2016. Shaikh claims that he has not been involved in any illegal activity and all his businesses are registered.

Read more: Ayyan Ali’s latest appearance in front of the court

He also claims to donate 60% of his income to charity and believes that he has does a great service to Pakistan by bringing foreign direct investments. According to his website, he dreams of becoming the wealthiest man on the planet, even wealthier than Bill Gates. When this issue initially surfaced, cybercrime laws were non-existent in Pakistan and there was barely any internet regulation but three years down the line, we have elaborate cybercrime laws which were promulgated in 2016 as Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act (PECA).

The NYT wrote an article on Axact, exposing its elaborate degree scam in which people were tricked into joining fake online courses for bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees.

PECA explicitly states that impersonation, fraud and spoofing are punishable crimes, and Axact is allegedly guilty of them all. Axact doesn’t legally operate within Pakistan, so authorities and local people have not taken any severe action against them.

Read more: Pakistan: Big Brother is watching you!

The existence of degree mills is a big issue throughout the world; many employees in Pakistan have also acquired their services. Today, the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan has ordered the arrest of all police officials with fake degrees. Axact may not operate within Pakistan but the responsibility of investigations lies with Pakistan, investigating about the Axact case will help authorities get insight about the working of other degree mills and may prove helpful to expose them.


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