Axact

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Axact Pvt. Ltd.
Native name
ایگزیکٹ
Industry Software
Founder Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh
Headquarters Karachi, Pakistan
Key people
Number of employees
Over 2,000
Website www.axact.com

Axact (Urdu: ایگزیکٹ‎) is a Pakistani software company that runs numerous websites selling fake academic degrees. As of May 2015, it was being investigated by Pakistan's Federal Investigation Agency. The company also owns the media company BOL Network[1] and sells fake degrees and theses to foreign students.[2][3]

History[edit]

Axact was founded by Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh, who serves as its chairman. It is based in Karachi, and has over 2,000 employees.[1] According to Shaikh, the company was founded in 1997 with fewer than 10 employees working in a single room. In 2013 he said Axact was the world’s leading IT company and that it had eight broad-business units and products, more than 5,200 employees, and associated globally and as many as 8.3 million customers worldwide.[4] The company website said in 2015 that the company had 10 diverse business units that offer more than 23 products, more than two billion users, and a global presence across 6 continents, 120 countries and 1,300 cities with more than 25,000 employees and associates.[5]

According to Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan records, the company was registered in June 2006 and had a paid up capital of Rs. 6 million (US$58,860) by 2010. Government records show that it paid an income tax of approximately Rs. 18,90,000 (US$18,543) for the year 2014, and that Shaikh paid a personal income tax of Rs. 26 (US$0.26) for the same year.[5]

Fake diplomas scandal[edit]

The New York Times investigation[edit]

On 17 May 2015, The New York Times published an investigative story reporting that Axact ran at least 370 degree and accreditation mill websites. The report said that although the company did sell software, chiefly website design and smartphone applications, its main business was "to take the centuries-old scam of selling fake academic degrees and turn it into an Internet-era scheme on a global scale." The Times further reported that the company had around 2,000 employees, some of whom pretended to be American educational officials and worked in shifts to keep the company open 24 hours per day.[1]

Company response[edit]

Axact has denied all the allegations.[6][7] The company accused The New York Times of "baseless, substandard reporting" as part of a plot by rival news organizations to stop the BOL Network, which was scheduled to start operations soon. It also threatened several news organizations and bloggers reporting on the issue with lawsuits.[8]

Initially Shaikh denied any association with the fake educational websites besides selling them software. Later he said that while Axact did provide office support and call center services to the websites, it did not itself "issue any degree or diploma, whether fake or real."[9]

Official investigations[edit]

Following the publication of the New York Times article, Pakistan's interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan directed the country's Federal Investigation Agency to begin inquiry into whether the company was involved in any illegal business.[10] Following the interior minister’s order, a cyber crime team of the FIA raided Axact’s offices in Karachi and Islamabad and seized computers, recorded statements of employees and took into custody 25 employees of the company[11] and 28 employees from Rawalpindi office.[12] The FIA team found and seized several blank degrees as well as fake letterhead of the US State Department.[13] The investigation was transferred from the FIA's cyber crime department to its corporate department.[citation needed]

The issue was also taken up in the Senate of Pakistan where Chairman of the Senate Raza Rabbani constituted a committee to probe into the issue.[11] Pakistan's tax authorities and the SECP also initiated investigations into the company.[9]

New details released on 10 April 2016 in the report state that this scandal is “bigger than initially imagined."

It is alleged that Axact took money from over 215,000 people in 197 countries; that the CEO Shoaib Shaikh is the owner of several shell companies in the US and other Caribbean countries that were used to route the monies into Pakistan; that Shaikh used an alias on documentation linked to these offshore companies; that Shaikh became a citizen of Saint Kitts and Nevis, a small Caribbean island nation that sells passports to rich investors; that Axact sales agents' employees used "threats and false promises" and impersonated government officials to take money from customers generally in the Middle East; and that the company earned at least US$89 million in its final year of operation.[14]

Axact CEO Shoaib Shaikh was acquitted of money laundering charges in August 2016 due to lack of evidence. Criminal charges concerning alleged fake degrees remained pending.[15]

In Dec 2016, Umair Hamid, 30, the Axact's Assistant Vice President of International Relations was arrested and charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft for his Axact-related activities.[16][17][18][19] Hamid was found guilty in August 2017 and sentenced to 21 months in prison.[20]

Further revelations[edit]

Most of Axact's revenues from its fake diploma sales came from the United Arab Emirates, where hundreds of residents used Axact diplomas to obtain high-paying jobs.[21] Axact sold over 200,000 fake degrees in Gulf countries.[22] More recently, Axact employees have impersonated Emirati government officials in an effort to extort "legalisation fees" from unsuspecting fake degree and diploma holders in that country.[23]

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's television series Marketplace carried out an investigation into the prevalence of fake academic credentials. Its September 15, 2017 documentary focused on Canadians with fake degrees occupying positions such as college instructors and medical doctors. All the suspect certificates were found to be from Axact.[24][further explanation needed]

Network of websites[edit]

A New York Times investigation identified more than 370 websites associated with Axact's alleged fake diploma operations, including 145 sites for fictitious universities, 41 for high schools, 18 for fake accreditation boards, and 121 degree portals.[8] The following is an incomplete list of those websites:

Educational websites[edit]

  • Accredited Degrees Pro[25]
  • Accredited Online Degrees Now[25]
  • Adamsville University[25]
  • Advance Online Degrees[25]
  • Affordable Accredited Degrees[25]
  • Affordable Degrees Pro[25]
  • Al Arab University[25]
  • Al Khaleej University[25]
  • Al Khalifa American University[25]
  • Alford High School[25]
  • Almeda University
  • Alpine University[25]
  • American Gulf University[25]
  • American Mideast University[25]
  • Anchor Point University[25]
  • Arab Continental University[25]
  • Arab Women University[25]
  • Ashbery University[25]
  • Ashley University[25]
  • Bakerville University[25]
  • Barkley University[25]
  • Bay View University[25]
  • Baycity University[25]
  • Baytown University[25]
  • Beacon Falls High School[25]
  • Belford High School[1]
  • Belford University[1]
  • Belltown University[25]
  • Branton University[25]
  • Brooklyn Park University[25]
  • Brooksville High School[25]
  • Brooksville University[25]
  • Buffville High School[25]
  • Cambell State University[25]
  • Camp Lake University[25]
  • Chapel University[25]
  • Columbiana University[25]
  • Creek View University[25]
  • Crestford University[25]
  • Fast Online University[25]
  • Federal High School[25]
  • Ford Worth High School[25]
  • Fort Jones University[25]
  • Foster City High School[25]
  • Galewood University[25]
  • Gatesville University
  • Gibson University[25]
  • Glenford University[25]
  • Global Institute of English Language Training and Certification[25]
  • Grant Town University[25]
  • GreenLake University[25]
  • Grendal University[25]
  • Hadly University[25]
  • Hansford University[25]
  • Harvey University[25]
  • Headway University[25]
  • High School Diploma Experience[25]
  • High School Diploma Fast[25]
  • High School Diploma Pro[25]
  • High School Diploma Professionals[25]
  • High School Diploma Profs[25]
  • Hill Online Degrees[25]
  • Hill University[25]
  • James Adam University[25]
  • James Harding University[25]
  • Jersey High School[25]
  • Johnstown University[25]
  • Kennedy University[25]
  • Kings Lake University[25]
  • Kingsbridge University[25]
  • Laurus University[25]
  • Lorenz High School[25]
  • Luther City High School[25]
  • Madison Hills University[25]
  • Mary Grand High School[25]
  • Mayfield University[25]
  • McCain High School[25]
  • McFord High School[25]
  • McFord University[25]
  • McGraw Online Degrees[25]
  • McGraw University[25]
  • McHill High School[25]
  • McKinley University[25]
  • Midtown University[25]
  • Mount Lincoln University[25]
  • Nelson Bay University[25]
  • Nicholson University[25]
  • Nixon University[25]
  • Northern Port University[25]
  • Northway University[25]
  • Olford Walters University[25]
  • Online University Profs[25]
  • Online University Programs Pro[25]
  • Olympia Creek University [25]
  • Pacific High School[25]
  • Panworld High School[25]
  • Panworld University[25]
  • Paramount California University[25]
  • Parkfield University[25]
  • Payne Springs University[25]
  • Pine Hill University[25]
  • Pittsford University[25]
  • Port Jefferson University[25]
  • Queen City University[25]
  • Queens Bay University[25]
  • Queensville University[25]
  • Ray University[25]
  • Redding University[25]
  • Riverwood University[25]
  • Rochville University[25]
  • Roseville Community College[25]
  • St. Angelo High School[25]
  • Stenford High School[25]
  • Thompson University[25]
  • Universal Online Degrees[25]
  • Victorville High School[25]
  • WalesBridge University[25]
  • Walford University[25]
  • West Coast High School[25]
  • Western Advanced Central University[25]
  • Western Valley Central University[25]
  • Westland University[25]
  • Wilburton University[25]
  • Wiley University[25]
  • Wilford University[25]
  • Willington University[25]
  • WinFord High School[25]
  • Windham University[25]
  • Woodbridge University[25]
  • Woodfield High School[25]
  • Woodfield University[25]
  • Woodrow University[25]

Accreditation websites[edit]

  • Accreditation Bureau of Online Education and Training[25]
  • Arab Accreditation Council[25]
  • Association for Accreditation of Business Schools and Programs[25]
  • European Accreditation Board for Online Education[25]
  • European Accreditation Council for Online Learning[25]
  • Global Accreditation Board for Distance Learning[25]
  • Global Doctorate Council[25]
  • Gulf Accreditation Council[25]
  • Gulf Bureau of Higher Education[25]
  • Gulf Engineering Council[25]
  • International Accreditation Board for Business Studies[25]
  • International Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Education[25]
  • Education International Accreditation Board for Psychology Education[25]
  • Education International Accreditation Council for Open Education[25]
  • International Accreditation Organization[25]
  • International Business Accreditation and Regulatory Commission[25]
  • International Medical Science Commission Ghotki.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Declan Walsh (May 17, 2015). "Fake Diplomas, Real Cash: Pakistani Company Axact Reaps Millions". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Former Axactian reveals he lured customers into buying degrees from Karachi office". GEO. May 26, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2015. 
  3. ^ "Unabated disclosures: Axact's ex-employee spills the beans". Express Tribune. May 26, 2015. Retrieved May 26, 2015. 
  4. ^ Shah, Benazir; Mohydin, Rimmel (13 October 2013). "Axactly Right". Newsweek. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Devjyot Ghoshal. "The Pakistani man accused of making millions from fake degrees paid 26 cents in tax last year". Quartz. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  6. ^ "Fake degrees? Axact-ly!". Pakistan Today. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  7. ^ Kugelman, Michael (18 May 2015). "The Axact Scandal and Pakistan's Growing Tech Sector". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Imtiaz, Saba; Walsh, Declan (20 May 2015). "Pakistani Investigators Raid Offices of Axact, Fake Diploma Company". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Walsh, Declan (22 May 2015). "Pakistan Widens Inquiry Into Fake Diplomas". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Chaudhry Nisar orders inquiry into NYT report on Axact". Dawn. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  11. ^ a b "An Insider Discloses How Axact Seduces Individuals With Certified US Degrees". Today Streams. 20 May 2015. Archived from the original on 12 June 2015. Retrieved 20 May 2015. 
  12. ^ "FIA raids Axact's offices, computers confiscated". Daily Pakistan Global. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  13. ^ "LIVE UPDATES: Dozens of Axact employees detained for questioning after FIA raids in Karachi & Islamabad — 2 main servers to be shut down". ARY News. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 19 May 2015. 
  14. ^ Walsh, Declan (10 April 2016). "Behind Fake Degrees From Pakistan, a Maze of Deceit and a Case in Peril". Retrieved 23 June 2017 – via NYTimes.com. 
  15. ^ http://newsthrive.com/axact-ceo-cleared-in-money-laundering-case_7751985/
  16. ^ Reuters, Dawn.com (22 December 2016). "US charges Pakistani executive in $140m fake diploma scheme". dawn.com. Retrieved 23 June 2017. 
  17. ^ "Axact executive could face 20 years in US prison over fake degree scam". www.geo.tv. Retrieved 23 June 2017. 
  18. ^ "Fake-diploma mill: US authorities charge Axact official in $140m scam - The Express Tribune". tribune.com.pk. 23 December 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2017. 
  19. ^ "Pakistani man charged in $140 million 'diploma mill' fraud in US - Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis". dnaindia.com. 23 December 2016. Retrieved 23 June 2017. 
  20. ^ Helen Clifton & Matthew Chapman (2018-01-16). "'Staggering' trade in fake degrees revealed". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-01-16. 
  21. ^ "Exposed: VPs, CEOs with fake degrees in the UAE". www.xpress4me.com. May 27, 2015. 
  22. ^ "XPRESS". XPRESS. 
  23. ^ "www.xpress4me.com". XPRESS. 
  24. ^ Fake Degrees - Exposing Canadians with phoney credentials. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, September 15, 2017. http://www.cbc.ca/marketplace/episodes/2017-2018/fake-degrees-exposing-canadians-with-phoney-credentials
  25. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq dr ds dt du dv dw dx dy dz ea eb ec ed ee ef eg eh ei ej ek el em en eo Palmer, Griff (17 May 2015). "Tracking Axact's Websites". The New York Times. 

External links[edit]