As per the statement issued by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Joon H. Kim, the culprit Umair Hamid, pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams. Umair Hamid, a.k.a the “Shah,” was committed to wire fraud in Axact Diploma Mill scam. The scam collected millions of dollars from thousands of investors. As proven in the case and the concerned criminal complaint, Hamid and his team tricked the customers to get enrolled in fake high schools and colleges, on websites and over the phone. Furthermore, they provided fake diplomas to their customers, upon receiving open fees from them.
Joon H. Kim, US Attorney stated:
“Operating from Pakistan, Umair Hamid helped fraudulently rake in millions of dollars from unwitting American consumers who paid to enroll in, and get degrees from, high schools and colleges that did not exist. As a result of his fraud, people who thought they were investing in an education received nothing more than worthless diplomas and a harsh lesson in the worldwide reach of deceit. Together with our partners at the FBI and the Postal Service, we will continue to work to protect consumers from scams that victimize our citizens”
The Axact Diploma Mill Scam
Umair Hamid, along with his partners in crime, ran a huge education diploma mill under the Pakistani company ‘Axact’, which was advertised as the world’s leading IT Company. Working under Axact, the culprits deceived individuals around the world, tricking them into enrolling in fake educational institutions. Hoping to get enrolled in real educational centers to receive valid degrees, people paid heavy money to the schemers. Later, in return of this upfront fee, consumers were tricked and given invalid and useless diplomas instead of a real one.
Axact claimed that it was affiliated with almost 350 fictional high schools and colleges, which it promoted as authorized schools. Over the period since 2014, Axact received almost 5,000 calls a day for enrollment in these fake educational institutions. Many of the consumers thought that they were calling at the respective school. When the sales representatives were asked about the schools location, they instructed false addresses.
Once the consumer paid their school fee, the sales agents used their sales technique to further persuade their clients into buying additional certification to make the process look real. The degrees affiliated with the fake colleges and other institutions arranged fake diplomas and affixed them stamps probably containing the seal and signature of higher authorities, like the US Secretary of the State and other state officials.
Role of Umair Hamid
Hailing from Karachi, Umair Hamid, aged 31, has been the “Assistant Vice President of International Relations” at Axact. He was charged with one count of plot to commit wire fraud and selling fake diplomas. Hamid supervised websites of fake schools that:
- Fraudulently spoke to those individuals who enlisted with the schools by paying educational charges would get online direction and coursework
- Sold fake certificates in return of additional fees
- Lied that the schools had been authorized by various educational authorities
- Provided fake representations that the degrees were legal and verified by authorities of the United States
Furthermore, Hamid and his companions
- Opened bank accounts in the United States in the names of shell entities, controlled by Hamid, that managed the finances submitted in return for fake certificates
- Exchanged assets from those financial balances bank accounts related with different entities found somewhere else in the United States and abroad, as directed by Hamid
- Opened and used an account affiliated with their scheme to receive and transfer funds from consumers
Pakistani law enforcement agencies shut down Axact in May 2015 and particular individuals connected with Axact were sued. However, after May 2015, Hamid continued his fake business of cheating consumers in the United States. Just recently, Hamid went to US in 2016 to open a bank account for the purpose of collecting funds from cheated customers.
The charges on Umair Hamid can carry him to a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Congress suggests the maximum potential sentence which is determined by the judge only.
Judge Abrams will sentence Hamid on 21st July, 2017, at 3:00 p.m.
Mr. Kim appreciated the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the US Postal Inspection Service for the outstanding work.
If anyone considers themselves of being the victim of any part of this scam, and wants to inform to law enforcement and/or get notified of future development of the case, please inform the Victim/Witness Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, at (866) 874-8900. For more details, visit http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nys/victimwitness.html.
The Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit are prosecuting the case. Supervisors of the prosecution include Assistant United States Attorneys Edward A. Imperatore, Noah D. Solowiejczyk, and David Abramowicz.