A report published by a leading US newspaper on Monday accused Pakistani software house Axact of reaping in millions of dollars by selling fake academic degrees online.
“Axact makes tens of millions of dollars annually by offering diplomas and degrees online through hundreds of fictitious schools. Fake accreditation bodies and testimonials lend the schools an air of credibility. But when customers call, they are talking to Axact sales clerks in Karachi,” said the report by the New York Times.
The company, however, has issued a rebuttal saying the NYT report was based on baseless and fabricated allegations.
A message on its website declared the story “baseless, substandard, maligning, defamatory, and based on false accusations” and added it would sue the New York Times.
The report claims that websites run by Axact offer online degrees in dozens of disciplines, like nursing and civil engineering, and their certificates bearing the US signature of Secretary of State John Kerry. Part of the company’s sales technique involves impersonating US government officials.
Countless news reports, albeit fabricated, endorse the fake online degree programs to push their rankings on internet search engines.
“The news reports are fabricated. The professors are paid actors. The university campuses exist only as stock photos on computer servers. The degrees have no true accreditation,” claims the NYT news report.
The report adds that the Karachi-based company, which employs over 2,000 people and calls itself Pakistan’s largest software exporter, also sells some software applications.
But “according to former insiders, company records and a detailed analysis of its websites, Axact’s main business has been to take the centuries-old scam of selling fake academic degrees and turn it into an Internet-era scheme on a global scale,” claims the NYT.
Based on information from former employees, the NYT claims telephone sales agents at Axact’s Karachi headquarters cater not only to customers who understand that they are buying “a shady instant degree for money”, but they often also manipulate those seeking a real education into buying the fake degrees.
“Customers think it’s a university, but it’s not,” the report quotes Yasir Jamshaid, a quality control official who left Axact in October. “It’s all about the money.”
Axact’s fake ‘virtual academic realm’ spans at least 370 such websites which sell fake degrees online and reaps in millions of dollars annually, claims the NYT report.