Sayyed Yasir Jamshaid Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Dubai:  The man who exposed the Pakistani IT Company, Axact, for allegedly making tens of millions of dollars from selling fake online degrees, told Gulf News in an exclusive interview that he wants to help people scammed recover their money.

Speaking to Gulf News at its office in Dubai, Yasir Jamshaid called on the authorities concerned to investigate Axact’s Dubai-based company, Axact FC LLC, which he said is based in Dubai Internet City (free zone). However, the entire operation is being conducted in Karachi.

“They are misusing the facilities of this country and using it for a bad cause and I want to reveal their fraud here as well,” alleged Jamshaid, a former employee of Axact in Karachi.

Jamshaid who lives in the UAE, said he is willing to cooperate with the authorities.

Jamshaid, a Pakistani, who was born in Saudi Arabia and speaks fluent Arabic decided to quit his job after he was a witness to fraud.

“My job was to listen to phone calls between our sales agent and customers. The sales agents give themselves fake names and claim to be professors from different universities.”

Gulf News tried to contact Axact offices in Karachi, but got no response.

Jamshaid now fears for his safety, to the point that he also brought his wife and family members to the UAE recently.

“I have already received threats. My wife and family members are angry at me for exposing the story. I ran to the UAE, I am very tense because of this.” 

Jamshaid, who worked at Axact as a quality assurance auditor, said his job at the company, which has around 2,000 staff was to listen and document conversations between sales agents and customers.

Gulf News had earlier unearthed the ‘fake degree mills’ targeting residents in GCC countries and warned against online ‘fake’ degree providers. 

Gulf News obtained documents that showed that 99.99 per cent of the company’s shares are registered under the Dubai company’s name, Axact FC LLC. The documents showed that the company has 600,000 shares. Only one share is under the name of Shoaib Shaikh, CEO and owner of Axact, another one share is under the name of his wife, Aisha, and the remaining 599,998 are registered under Axact.

An official from the Pakistani Consulate in Dubai told Gulf News that Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is pursuing the case in Pakistan and they are in touch with them. He said they would approach the UAE authorities only after investigating authorities in Pakistan ask them to do so.

Names and accounts

Jamshaid said he has the names and accounts of some people involved in the Axact operations in Dubai and is willing to share them with authorities.

The Axact scandal surfaced this week after Jamshaid’s story was published in the New York Times revealing that Axact operates hundreds of fake online universities from its headquarters in Pakistan, making hundreds of millions of dollars online selling fake degrees to people around the world.

Following the New York Times report, the FIA raided the firm’s offices in Pakistan, confiscated computers and secured data. It also held employees for questioning. The FIA yesterday dispatched an initial report of the Axact scandal to the Interior Ministry in Pakistan. The report carries statements of at least 23 employees, data retrieved from two main servers and as many as 40 computers.

In response to the FIA raid, Axact issued an official statement on its website saying: “We request the government to order a proper judicial inquiry into these false allegations made against Axact. The inquiry being conducted right now seems to be done in haste and without lawful procedure. For instance, sealing Axact’s Islamabad office, seizure of computers, etc”.

Company reacts

The official response from the company said the quick government action “is due to the pressure from the competitor media organisations. We also fear that the way the inquiry is being conducted points to the fact that they already have a verdict against Axact in mind.” 

Gulf News obtained his job contract documents as well as his work tag at Axact, proving that he was an employee at Axact.

Sales agents

He said the staff included roughly around 973 sales agents and each team, which were responsible for a number of fake universities that claim to offer fake degrees, has a target to make $40,000 (Dh146,923) per day.

The New York Times reported that there were at least at least 370 websites, many of which purport to be online universities and high schools based in the US.

Jamshaid said each sales agent will try to make at least $299 (Dh1098) a day. The agent will continue contacting the customer to try to upsell the degree (for example giving accreditation certificates, which cost more) and in sometimes even blackmail them.

“There was a woman in Al Ain, who bought 18 degrees from fake online universities in  three years. I listened to the sales agent call her back claiming that she was a US government official.

“The agent claimed that government officials found out about her fake degrees. The agent told the lady she will lose her job if she does not pay Dh90,000 to cancel all 18 degrees and get one accredited degree instead, which she eventually did,”

Before doing so, Jamshaid started writing down and recording on his phone as many details as he could of the people scammed (22), who in total have paid $600,000 (around Dh22 million) in total to the company.

So far Jamshaid helped two customers from the UAE and two in Saudi and hopes on helping the rest to retrieve their money in the near future.

Warning

The public prosecution in Abu Dhabi has warned residences earlier about dubious pop-up advertisements and websites offering instant university degrees last year .

They promise hassle free diplomas without alerting you of the consequences.

Forging and using official transcripts is punishable by up to 10 years in prison under articles 216, 217, 218 and 222.