BBC Radio 4 reveal ‘Staggering’ Trade in Fake Degrees
A BBC Radio 4 investigation has found thousands of UK nationals have bought fake degrees from a multi-million-pound Pakistan-based Diploma Mill.
The Department for Education was said to be taking decisive action to crack down on degree fraud. One British buyer spent almost half a million pounds on bogus documents.
The Pakistan operation was run by Axact, which claims to be the world’s largest IT Company, they operated a network of hundreds of fake online universities via a Karachi call centre.
Documents seen by BBC Radio 4’s File on Four programme, found more than 3,000 fraudulent degrees were sold to UK-based buyers in 2013 and 2014 including master’s degrees, doctorates and PhD’s. In 2015, Axact sold over 200,000 fake qualifications globally, through 350 fictitious high schools and universities, making £37.5m.
A list of buyers seen by the BBC revealed NHS clinical staff, including an ophthalmologist, nurses, a psychologist, and numerous consultants bought fake degrees.
The General Medical Council (GMC) said it was up to employers to verify any qualifications additional to medical degrees, but Hedd chief executive Jayne Rowley said only 20% of UK employers ran proper checks on applicants’ qualifications.
While purchasing a fake diploma was not illegal in the UK, using one to apply for employment constituted fraud by misrepresentation and could result in a 10-year prison sentence.
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, which could take months.
MP James Frith said he was “staggered” by the “aggressive tactics” used by Axact and would ask the Education Selection Committee to look into the issue.
The Department of Education said Hedd was taking a proactive approach, a spokesman said:
“Degree fraud cheats both genuine learners and employers, so we’ve taken decisive action to crack down on those seeking to profit from it.”
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