By Sarmad Ali
(Pak Destiny) More shocking revelations have come forth about Axact owned by Shoaib Sheikh as it allegedly sold more than 3,000 qualifications in Britain between 2013 and 2014 that include PhDs and doctorates.
Now what defence Mr Shiekh will offer on his two mouth-piece – BOL and PAK TV? Will he blame his rival MSR of the Jang/Geo group for this shocking revelations as well?
According to the BBC latest investigation, Axat invented hundreds of universities online and used fake news stories in an attempt to dupe employers who might check the references on applicants’ CVs.
Axact, which claims to be the “world’s largest IT company” and has invented names such as Brooklyn Park University and Nixon University, is run by agents from a call centre in Karachi.
‘Degrees of Deception’, to be aired as part of BBC Radio 4’s ‘File on Four’ programme, claims that clinical staff employed by the UK’s state-funded National Health Service (NHS) and nurses were among thousands who had acquired these fake degrees.
“While we have good processes in place to shut down such sites, the problem with fake universities is that they are often based outside the UK,” said Jane Rowley, chief executive of Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD), the UK’s official body for candidate verification and university authentication.
“Pakistan, Malaysia, Romania and the Middle East are among some of the countries we have come across in investigations. As more and more employers demand degree qualifications, people are tempted by these offers. We encourage proper checks by employers so that such fake degrees are exposed because if no one buys them, these organisations would cease to exist,” she said.
Federal Investigation Agency had opened an investigation into Axact in May 2015 after ‘The New York Times’ found that it had created at least 370 fake websites and employed 2,000 people.
Axact’s chief executive Shoiab Sheikh was acquitted of money laundering in 2016 but its vice-president, Umair Hamid, was jailed in the US last year on fraud charges. While Axact denies all wrongdoing, the Pakistani investigation ground to a halt amid claims of government corruption.
Action Fraud, the UK’s national cybercrime reporting centre, said it did not have the power to close fake Axact websites but instead had to provide evidence to domain registries and registrars, a process that takes months.
“Degree fraud cheats both genuine learners and employers, so we have taken decisive action to crack down on those seeking to profit from it,” a Department for Education spokesperson said.
Will FIA take up this matter again after this revelations? Will it file a petition in the court after the fresh evidence, this will have to be seen? – Pak Destiny