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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

The chief executive of a software company in Pakistan accused of running a global diploma mill that made millions selling worthless education degrees was arrested after Pakistani investigators discovered a storage room with blank fake diplomas, according to a report in The New York Times.

The Times reports Pakistani law enforcement officials said that Shoaib Ahmed Shaikh, chief executive of Axact, and four other executives in the company were charged with fraud, forgery, illegal electronic money transfers, money laundering, and violating Pakistan’s electronic crimes act.

The arrests come after an article published earlier in the Times claimed Axact was a global diploma mill with hundreds of websites for phony universities and high schools that offered online degrees with no true accreditation in order to make “tens of millions of dollars” from people worldwide.

Former employees at the company told the Times that some customers of the alleged diploma mill knew that they were “buying a shady instant degree for money” while others wanted a real education. Students chose “from high school diplomas for about $350 to doctoral degrees for $4,000 and above.”

A 2011 report on diploma mills defined them as “mostly online entities that offer substandard or bogus degrees in exchange for payment and not much else.” The report also found that the United States held “the dubious title of most popular location for diploma mill providers.”

To combat the growing diploma mill problem in the United States, schools are generally accredited by private organizations recognized as legitimate accreditors by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the U.S. Department of Education.

CHEA created a Database of Institutions and Programs Accredited by Recognized United States Accrediting Organizations. The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Post-Secondary Education (OPE) provides a Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

U.S. businesses also need to be aware of the diploma mill problem, according to Attorney Lester Rosen, Founder and CEO of San Francisco, California-area background check firm Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) and author of ‘The Safe Hiring Manual.’

“Diploma mills create a danger to employers since educational achievements can tell a great deal about a job applicant’s ability, qualifications, and motivation,” says Rosen, who outlines how employers can avoid getting caught in the diploma mill trap in his article ‘The Basics of Education Verifications.’

More Diploma Mill Blogs from ESR

To read more about diploma mills, please visit For more information about Employment Screening Resources® (ESR) – ‘The Background Check Authority®’ – call toll free 888.999.4474 or visit

Related ESR News Blog: Alleged Diploma Mills Make Millions Selling Fake Degrees

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