A New York Times report on Monday revealed that a Pakistani IT firm is involved in a worldwide scam of selling fake degrees, making millions of dollars at the cost of Pakistan’s reputation, according to foreign media sources.
Authored by Declan Walsh, former Islamabad bureau chief of the US-based paper, the report said that the company that operates from Karachi, where it employs over 2,000 people and calls itself Pakistan’s largest software exporter, with Silicon Valley-style employee perks like a swimming pool and yacht, sources claimed.
The report said the company does sell some software applications but according to former insiders, company records and a detailed analysis of its websites, its 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, authorities stated.
As interest in online education is booming, the company is aggressively positioning its school and portal websites to appear prominently in online searches, luring in potential international customers, it claimed.
At company’s headquarters, former employees say, telephone sales agents work in shifts around the clock. Sometimes they cater to customers who clearly understand that they are buying a shady instant degree for money. But often the agents manipulate those seeking a real education, pushing them to enroll for coursework that never materializes, or assuring them that their life experiences are enough to earn them a diploma, sources stated.
To boost profits, the sales agents often follow up with elaborate ruses, including impersonating American government officials, to persuade customers to buy expensive certifications or authentication documents.
“A more lucrative form of upselling involves impersonating American government officials who wheedle or bully customers into buying State Department authentication certificates signed by Secretary Kerry,” the report said.
Revenues, estimated by former employees and fraud experts at several million dollars per month, are cycled through a network of offshore companies.