Bravo to the New York Times on an amazing piece uncovering what might be the most egregious diploma fraud ever dreamed up. Through some good old-fashioned, hardcore investigative reporting, the Times uncovered a scheme that is more an empire than a diploma mill.
A Pakistani company called Axact claims to be a software/IT support company, but the real money is coming in from hundreds of fake universities and high schools that only exist on the internet. Former employees say tens of millions of dollars come in every year from customers around the globe.
These very legit looking schools offer degrees in everything from engineering to medicine. It all comes at a price, of course, ranging from $350 for a high school diploma to $4,000 for a doctorate. These “degrees” come from schools with names like Columbiana, Barkley, and Mount Lincoln which sound very similar to well-known academic institutions. Some “students” know exactly what they are paying for; others who are genuinely looking for a real education are allegedly pressured or tricked into paying for worthless sheets of paper.
Axact is certainly not the first or only organization to sell academic credentials. They have taken it to a new level of duplicity described as “A breathtaking scam” by an FBI agent interviewed for the New York Times piece. Not only are the degrees fake, but former employees claim they also strong-arm foreign job seekers who want to work in the US into buying fake State Department certificates bearing Secretary of State John Kerry’s signature.
We must point out that Axact representatives say the report is nothing but lies, but with the insider reports and the intricate, twisty underground path that connects the company with some 370+ “universities”, that seems unlikely.
This is just a very short synopsis of this great piece. To get all of the twisted details click here.
The Axact scheme is yet another example of how important it is to verify an applicant’s education history, including the legitimacy of the academic institution that’s granting the degree. From the high school graduate all the way up to the candidate with the doctorate – sometimes the degree is worth less than the paper on which it’s printed.