Look who was here: University of Atlanta's stall at Getex Image Credit: Supplied

DUBAI Degree mills are coming up with newer ways to lure unsuspecting residents. Until now they had been advertising on social media by using pictures of prominent UAE personalities to appear legitimate.

But now they have gone a step further. It has now emerged that the dodgy University of Atlanta managed to put up a stall at Getex (Gulf Education Training Exhibition).

The premier annual education fair held at the Dubai World Trade Centre last month had representatives of the non-existent college handing out brochures and registering students for their bogus courses.

 Read: XPRESS story that broke the Online fake degrees scam

University of Atlanta, originally known as Barrington University, was successfully sued for fraud after a US state investigation revealed that its physical campus was a rented post box.

In 2008, Barrington changed its name to University of Atlanta, but in early 2012 its accreditor, the DETC, announced that the school had stopped enrolling new students and that its accreditation would expire on June 30, 2013.

Consumer forums are flooded with complaints about the university whose website bears an uncanny resemblance to those of other degree mills reportedly run by AXACT. XPRESS investigation revealed further similarities. University of Atlanta is also backed by a software firm which, intriguingly, has the same address as the university.

A telephone call made to the university’s US office was answered by a woman who refused to take questions.

Students who might have visited University of Atlanta’s stall at Getex and registered for their distance learning programmes might want to also listen to what Dubai resident Aparna Joshi has to say about their supposedly much sought-after degrees. “I got an MBA degree from University of Atlanta without even appearing for the exam,” the Indian woman told XPRESS.

Aparna had enrolled with an education provider in Karama for an MBA course from MS University (India) in 2011.

“No classes were held; we were given some notes and told to study at home. In May 2012, the education provider told me there was a problem getting a degree from MS University. They dilly dallied when I sought a refund. When I threatened to report them to the police, they said they will get me an MBA from the University of Atlanta. I found it bizarre because that’s not what I had enrolled for. In August 2012, the Karama-based operator sent me a mail asking me to collect my degree. It was from the US-based University of Atlanta!”

XPRESS has a copy of the correspondence along with payment receipts.