The New York Times has claimed in an expose this week that the company Axact, based in Karachi with 2,000 employees, has run a fake education empire that involved paid actors promoting fictitious universities and fake US State Department authentication certifications with the signature of US Secretary of State John Kerry.
The company created a series of websites involving “professors” and students who were in fact paid actors and employees who would plant fictitious reports about Axact “universities” on CNN iReport, a website for citizen journalism, the New York Times said.
Clients from the US, UK and the UAE were cited as having had paid sums ranging from thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars for their degrees, believing the universities were real and they would soon receive coursework.
The NYT quoted former Axact employees and more than 370 websites of fake universities, accreditation bodies and other purported institutions.
Axact which is planning this year to launch a news channel named Bol and has already hired many of Pakistan’s top TV anchors and journalists, with reportedly the highest salaries in the market, used social media and its own website to deny any wrongdoing.
A message on its website declared the story “baseless, substandard, maligning, defamatory, and based on false accusations” and added it would sue the New York Times.
It accused domestic media rivals of colluding with the New York Times to plant a slanderous story in order to harm its business interests.