A 31-year-old Pakistani man in the US was today sentenced to 21 months in prison and ordered to forfeit over USD five million for his role in helping run a massive diploma mill scheme through a Pakistan-based company.
Umair Hamid of Karachi, had pled guilty in April this year to conspiracy to commit wire fraud before US District Judge Ronnie Abrams, who imposed the sentence on him.
He had helped run a massive diploma mill through his employer, Pakistan-based Axact, which had held itself out as one of the world’s leading information technology providers.
In addition to the prison term, Hamid was ordered to forfeit over USD five million.
“Umair Hamid and Axact operated a massive diploma mill that preyed on consumers who thought their tuition would pay for a college education. Instead, Hamid provided victims with worthless fake diplomas. Defendants like Hamid who profit from fake schools face very real penalties, including prison time,” Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon Kim said.
According to documents filed in this case, Hamid and his co-conspirators deceived individuals across the world, including throughout the US, into enrolling in supposed high schools, colleges, and universities.
Consumers paid upfront fees, believing that in return they would be enrolled in real educational courses and, eventually, receive legitimate degrees. Instead, consumers received no instruction and worthless diplomas.
Hamid, who served most recently as Axact’s assistant vice president of international relations, helped the company conduct the fraud in the US, among other locations.
On Axact’s behalf, he served as the primary contact during negotiations with a former competitor for the company’s acquisition of websites for fake educational institutions.
Under Axact’s control, those websites then continued to deceive consumers into paying upfront enrollment fees for non-existent educational programmes.
In May 2015, Pakistani authorities shut down Axact and arrested multiple individuals associated with the company for participating in the diploma mill operation.
But Hamid, who was not arrested at that time, continued to work in furtherance of the fraudulent business, even personally travelling to the US in 2016 to open a bank account used to collect money from defrauded consumers.