Thousands of individuals have been found to possess fake academic credentials and have been employed as doctors, nurses, teachers and engineers in South-East Asia, including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, and also Canada.
Online websites which have alleged links to a Pakistani based IT software company, Axact have been providing individuals with fake academic credentials. A recent 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.
After media reports exposed how Axact’s network appeared to be profiting from bogus degrees, the company’s founder, Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh, was arrested and charged with fraud in September 2018.
Police raids at the company’s headquarters in Karachi found lists of fake universities, blank degree certificates, names and phone numbers of their customers and call recordings of Axact staff trying to extract money from them.
There are now fears that thousands of people worldwide who have bought fake degrees are working in professions where extensive training and knowledge is critical. Some of them then use these fake qualifications to obtain jobs as doctors, teachers and engineers.
An estimated one in 20 potential hires in Malaysia has fake qualifications while one in 10 has credentials from unaccredited institutions. Though no Australian visa holders have yet been identified, hundreds of people working as professionals in diverse fields across Canada have been identified as possessing fake academic credentials connected to Axact.