The sordid scam of fake degrees
Not only Pakistan but many countries including US indulge in using bogus certificates
Lahore, June 25: Following the detection of innumerable politicians holding fake educational
degrees in Pakistan, warning bells are also ringing for both private sector and
government departments to 'hunt out' those employees who may have falsified on
their resumes to attain jobs.
As political parties may not just be the
only arenas infected by the crooks in this context, warning signs are beginning
to flash for employers to watch out for the cheats in their vicinities
For genuine graduates, receiving a university degrees is the
culmination of years of hard work, yet many holding prized offices in both
private and public sectors today may have managed to obtain these certificates
without ever attending a class, taking an exam or even opening a text book for a
The United States Federal Trade Commission had viewed in its 2005
report, and it may well be applicable in Pakistan's case, that if a person holds
a Master's degree but no bachelor's degree, alarms should ring.
Commission had stated in its report that there may be incidents, where degrees
have been earned out of sequence or more quickly than would normally be the
case. According to this report, if people presenting a Master's degree for a
certain purpose are asked to submit their Bachelor's degrees too, there are
bright chances that a few more scandals will unearth.
While the Higher
Education Commission of Pakistan might still be concentrating on verifying the
authenticity of the Bachelor's degrees presented to it by the politicians, it
won't thus be a bad idea to also ask the lawmakers presenting a Master's degree,
to show their respective Bachelor's degrees.
Although the afore-mentioned
US institution had acknowledged the fact that it can sometimes be difficult to
identify fake qualifications, it still warned the employers that they should
also check the credentials of any schools with which they are not
This American institution had also warned employers against
relying on web site details and had suggested checking directly with the school
or university itself, when trying to confirm whether a particular person had
actually studied there or not-asserting many diploma mills churning out such
certificates go to great lengths to make themselves appear as legitimate as
possible by creating sophisticated web sites.
The United States Federal
Trade Commission had viewed that these web sites display a detailed description
of faculty members and courses on offer, besides providing contact phone numbers
and legitimate addresses.
It was not long before the fears of the US
Commission actually came true and a newly- appointed Pastor Steven Flockhart at
the West Palm Beach Church of Florida was found guilty of using fabricated
credentials to seek the job.
Priest Flockhart consequently submitted
resignation to church leaders after a thorough scrutiny of his resume had
revealed that he had actually obtained his Bachelor's, Master's and Doctorate
degrees through correspondence courses offered by an unaccredited Georgia
A research conducted has revealed that
these phony degrees come in two types; they include those certificates which are
made to look like as if they have been issued by a legitimate university and
those offered by "non-accredited" universities or the online diploma
Interestingly, both types of bogus degrees have already been
identified in the case of Pakistani lawmakers, whose party leaders are currently
haunted and hounded by allegations ranging from immorality to cheating at the
cost of nation's future.
During the last decade or so, when it has become
known to all in the US that obtaining bogus degrees is nothing more than a
child's play, employers are increasingly concerned about the proliferation of
fake degrees and qualifications in the marketplace.
Both public and
private sector organizations in the US are well aware today of the costs
associated with hiring someone who did not actually have the qualifications
which he or she may have stated in his/her Curriculum Vitae (CV), knowing that a
firm could also leave itself open to legal action should any mistakes be made by
its 'under-qualified' staff members who may have faked their educational
Officials in the US state of Oregon have taken extra steps
over the years to counter the fake degree problem, by establishing the Office of
Degree Authorization (ODA).
The ODA maintains lists of accredited
academic institutions which are recognized by government and private-sector
employers in the state. Efforts of the Oregon state follow an earlier national
approach to the problem. During the 1980s, the Federal Bureau of Investigation
(FBI) had established a task force, called "Dip Scam," which was designed to
look into the spread of fake degrees and was entrusted with the task to close
down as many illegitimate schools as possible.
This task force was closed
in 1991, when its head Allen Ezell had opted to resign.After relinquishing his
job, Allen Ezell went out writing a book called "Degree Mills: the billion
In his book, the former FBI Task Force chief had
estimated that tens of thousands of fake qualifications were generated each
year, and the problem was bound to worsen because of the increasing
In September 2005, a Hong Kong woman was sentenced to 12 months
for using fake degrees to secure employment with a local company.At a hearing in
the Hong Kong District Court, the Police Commercial Crime Bureau had pressed the
charges that the woman had used phony degree certificates obtained from two
universities in Singapore and one in the United States.
Meanwhile in the
United Arab Emirates, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has been
screening degrees provided by job applicants seeking working visas for the
region for a few years now.
In South Korea, where demand for English
language teachers in on the rise, the authorities in Seoul have recently made it
mandatory for candidates in US, UK and Canada etc to send their actual diplomas
or a notarized copy performed by the nearest South Korean consulate.
This was done to counter the felons attempting to use fake degrees in
order to teach in Korea. Just a fortnight ago, a nursing student at the
University of Bedfordshire in United Kingdom has been sentenced to imprisonment
for 15 months by the Peterborough Crown Court for defrauding the UK National
Health Service (NHS) of nearly £28,000.
Investigations revealed that the
nursing student Isabel Moyo had used various false documents to gain her place
on a three-year nursing diploma course, commissioned and funded by the NHS.
As reported earlier by The News, the menace of buying degrees from
online diploma mills has also disgraced former Iranian interior minister Ali
Kordan, who was later impeached by the Iranian parliament in November 2008 for
allegedly lying about his credentials.
Kordan had claimed to have
obtained an honorary doctorate degree in law from the Oxford University, but a
probe had found him guilty of acting fraudulently. British politician and author
Jeffrey Howard Archer, a member of parliament and deputy chairman of the
Conservative Party, was also accused of providing false evidence of his academic
Archer, made a Life Peer in 1992 by the Queen, was
accused of buying a fake diploma from a US institution to get admission at the
Oxford University.Kostas Margaritis, a Greek politician and member of New
Democracy Party, was found guilty of obtaining a degree from the Shelbourne
University, another institution from the US consortium of diploma mills.
Antoine Zahra, a Lebanese parliamentarian, had claimed a diploma in
business studies from the University of Harrington, an unaccredited
institution.Antonie Zahra was among the 14 Lebanese politicians accused of
presenting counterfeit degrees in recent years.
George Weah, a retired
Liberian football player-turned-politician and FIFA world player in 1995 with
135 international goals to his credit, had also listed a degree from Parkwood
University, yet another unaccredited diploma mill operational in the US.
Nigerian politician and a former governor, Dr Andy Uba, is another one
in the list with disputed academic credentials. He had claimed to have graduated
from the Buxton University in UK, yet another institution which had turned out
to be an unaccredited diploma mill. The news
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Fake degree case
Rawalpindi: Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) Member
Provincial Assembly (MPA) Malik Yasir Raza Thursday appeared in Lahore High
Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench along with his lawyer Sardar Abdul Raziq to defend
his educational qualifications.
The LHC would hear the final arguments
in the case after a week.
Earlier, Federal Board of Intermediate and
Secondary Education (FBISE) Controller Examination Manzoor Ahmed confirmed that
the MPA had qualified the intermediate examination from the Federal Board,
however his photograph could not be verified from the record as the board
discards the record after every 10 years. FBISE official told the bench that it
could not be verified that either his photograph in the record was changed or
LHC Judge Justice Khawaja Imtiaz Ahmad also recorded the statement
of the MPA who said that all his educational certificates were original and
tempering in record at any level did not take place.
Counsel for the
prosecution Ilyas Sheikh informed the court that there was clear difference in
the photographs of Raza affixed on his FA certificate and on his BA
He requested the court to check both the portraits thoroughly to
mark the difference between the two photographs. The LHC adjourned the hearing
for final arguments for the period of one week. Daily times
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The whole story about Fake Degree cases have disappointed
many people as it has exposed the real face of politicians and this shows that
those politicians who can cheat in obtaining fake degrees and by betraying
people they have won elections, how could they be interested in solving people's
problem. I hope that HEC must announce all those names who have fake degrees so
that people get to know which politicians are betraying them. Political parties
must also feel shame that their members have done this type of shameful act and
must ensure that these politicians didn't get another chance for contesting
elections. F.P report
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