Diploma mill scandal: Walsh releases Axact investigation documents

Published: May 25, 2015
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Documents link IT company to two major fake degree mills.

Documents link IT company to two major fake degree mills.

Documents link IT company to two major fake degree mills. Screen grabs from the video testimony of Salem Kureshi and his associate ‘John Smith’.
PHOTO COURTESY: DECLAN WALSH

New York Times reporter Declan Walsh, whose expose uncovered Axact’s fake degree empire, has released documents pertaining to his investigations into the IT company’s dubious online college websites.

The documents were shared by Walsh using the online file sharing service Dropbox on Saturday. They include scans of registration documents for the mailboxes of Belford High School and Belford University in Texas and California, a copy of Axact’s internal publication, screen grabs from the school owner’s testimony, an image of the location listed as the address for the bogus International Accreditation Organisation and scans of an article in Arab News which linked Axact with fake degrees being sold abroad.

Walsh also shared a guide to the documents he uploaded online.

According to the guide, disgruntled American students of Belford High School and Belford University brought a class-action lawsuit in an American court in 2009 which ended three years later with a $22.7 million judgment against the schools.

“During the hearings, a Karachi man named Salem Kureshi claimed to be the owner of the schools and denied any link to Axact,” Walsh wrote in the guide. “But registration documents for the schools’ mailboxes in Texas and California show that the schools’ mail was being forwarded to Axact’s Karachi headquarters,” he added.

Walsh said the Texas mailbox was opened by a man from Karachi named Syed Asim Hashmi, who was listed as a former Axact employee on page 19 of the IT company’s 2010 publication ‘Axactian’. The internal magazine came out four years after Hashmi opened the Texas mailbox.

Screen grab from Google Maps of the address given by the bogus International Accreditation Organisation. PHOTO COURTESY: DECLAN WALSH

Meanwhile, the Arab News article, written by technology journalist Molouk Ba-Isa on October 6, 2009, identified Axact’s Karachi office as the source of fake degrees being posted abroad via Dubai. According to Walsh, the article was later pulled from the Internet following a legal threat from Axact’s lawyers, but never formally retracted.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 25th, 2015. 

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Reader Comments (19)

  • Zaida Parvez
    May 25, 2015 - 10:21AM

    For a while I thought Pakistan had produced a world class company.But like everything else, that was a lie too.Recommend

  • Ibrar
    May 25, 2015 - 12:18PM

    @Zaida Parvez:

    You are either a disgruntled Pakistani who happen to have low self esteem or you are from some other country. I agree this is a shameful crime and happen to be committed by someone from Pakistan but what do you mean from “like everything else”. Without meaning to defend this evil activity no country is free of individuals who orchestrate evil deeds and need to be nabbed and punished rather than their country being seen as a stereotype of crime. So have a realistic approach whether or not you are a Pakistani. Recommend

  • Sham
    May 25, 2015 - 12:49PM

    @Ibrar: and you.. my friend are in a world of your own.Recommend

  • Rizwan
    May 25, 2015 - 1:10PM

    @Zaida Parvez:

    Perpetual pessimism will keep you down while the rest of us enjoy Pakistan’s resurgent economy. Recommend

  • Bewildered
    May 25, 2015 - 1:17PM

    Where is the link to the ‘Dropbox’? As far as I know, it would be extremely difficult to prove any, let alone all, allegations leveled against Axact in any court of law. This scam is more like a defamation campaign – does not mean its all baseless — with the objective to kill without proving any allegations in a court of law.Recommend

  • @GIScientist
    May 25, 2015 - 2:50PM

    What is happening to AXACT is same as it happened with BCCI in 90’s. No individual company can survive without affiliating itself one way or the other with global industry giant. Recommend

  • optimist
    May 25, 2015 - 2:54PM

    Fake degrees are very popular here in the UK and USA.
    .
    The reason the US has not taken any action is the fact that these are perfectly legal way to do business. US is the mother of all ‘diploma mills’. Recommend

  • Ibrar
    May 25, 2015 - 3:11PM

    @Sham:

    Which world you think I am in? Explain.Recommend

  • Sohail Abbas
    May 25, 2015 - 3:24PM

    People associated with this company very well know what goes on inside.
    It’s better to shut down this company ASAP and owners take to task rather than dilly dallying and spoiling the name of the rest of IT companies of Pakistan.

    Already there is campaign going on against doing business with Pakistani IT companies in Silicon Valley.Recommend

  • kulwant singh
    May 25, 2015 - 5:34PM

    I watched an interview of CEO Axact Soaib Saikh he looked very frightened and instead of answering the questions being asked by the journalist he was spinning stories, he did not answered even a singe question but instead counter questioned the Anchor. Recommend

  • Ali S
    May 25, 2015 - 6:19PM

    @optimist:

    Yes, unfortunately fake degrees are popular all over the world – and when there’s an unethical demand there’s a supplier looking to make a quick buck from it. Drug dealers work by the same logic and are very successful at it.

    But who on earth told you it’s a legal business in the US? Axact’s own Belford University (some Salem Kureshi claimed responsibility for it to cover for Axact) was fined $22.7 million in 2009 by a US judge – it didn’t materialize because he was in Pakistan. Anyway, Axact has been forging US State Department and John Kerry’s signatures – I’m sure that’s a far more serious felony in the US than just a diploma mill.Recommend

  • Ali S
    May 25, 2015 - 6:19PM

    @optimist:

    Yes, unfortunately fake degrees are popular all over the world – and when there’s an unethical demand there’s a supplier looking to make a quick buck from it. Drug dealers work by the same logic and are very successful at it.

    But who on earth told you it’s a legal business in the US? Axact’s own Belford University (some Salem Kureshi claimed responsibility for it to cover for Axact) was fined $22.7 million in 2009 by a US judge – it didn’t materialize because he was in Pakistan. Anyway, Axact has been forging US State Department and John Kerry’s signatures – I’m sure that’s a far more serious felony in the US than just a diploma mill.Recommend

  • Ameer
    May 25, 2015 - 8:10PM

    We are watching this drama from 10 days, and the investigation going on from the day 1st, and Declan Walsh writing articles and giving interviews , and still no one could provide any single proof, and no one could have any valid or any authenticate evidence. So please stop the media trail and dont talk unless you could prove or else do not waste our time! Recommend

  • Sham
    May 26, 2015 - 7:54PM

    @Ibrar:
    It’s called the world of reality check.Recommend

  • Ibrar
    May 26, 2015 - 11:07PM

    @Sham:

    Is that what it is?
    If there’s a single lesson that life teaches us, it’s about knowing who is your enemies and hypocrites. But do not worry you are not wasting your time here as long as it is spent on remaining locked in your preferred mind set.Recommend

  • globalobserver
    May 26, 2015 - 11:53PM

    @Ameer:

    “, and still no one could provide any single proof, and no one could have any valid or any authenticate evidence.”

    Are you a member of The Flat Earth Society?Recommend

  • kulwant singh
    May 27, 2015 - 4:34AM

    @Ameer: Better ask this question to FIA who arrested CEO and six Directors.Recommend

  • Waqas
    May 27, 2015 - 11:26PM

    @Ibrar:
    It’s the work of a few individuals, that is correct. But in your optimistic mindset you are forgetting what opinions the world has about Pakistan. The stereotype is quite true. The mentality of an average person is to take the easy way out. If they were ambitious about it and get the chance, they wouldn’t do anything differently cuz that’s the culture they’ve been brought up in. It’s a fact that morality and ethics are rare in South Asian countries. The sooner we realize that, the sooner we can start trying to fix it. We can’t live in denial and expect things to get better without addressing the underlying problem.Recommend

  • MAYG
    May 29, 2015 - 1:17AM

    DECLAN PLEASE LOOK INTO DOLTON HIGH. THEY ARE USING THE SAME FORMAT AS BELFORD.Recommend

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