The case of a fake PhD


-Editorial

A Pakistani company selling fake degrees online would have been very proud of itself for having such a high profile alumnus as the newly-appointed finance minister of Myanmar, Kyaw Win, had it not been already facing legal action for its fraudulent operations. Kyaw, who was found out having obtained PhD online pretended to be an innocent victim, saying he was shocked to discover that his degree was fake. Acquiring education had been his dream since he was young, he said, but that he could not study abroad because he did not have enough money, suggesting thereby that he sincerely believed it was possible to earn the highest academic degree of doctorate from an American university via a computer.

It is more than obvious that he thought a doctorate from a Western university would look impressive on his CV, not realising that in this age of the Internet, such things do not remain hidden for long. As soon as his party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), announced his bio-data stating that he holds a PhD from Brooklyn Park University in the US, social media users got active to point out that the said university was one of the various fake online organisations created by a Pakistan group that ran a “fraudulent degree empire” out of Karachi until exposed last year. Ironical as it is, a degree that may have been a factor in bringing him once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at age 68 as finance minister of a nascent democracy could well become the cause of his undoing. For few in his country would be willing to believe that someone in such a responsible position could act so naively.

Although, the name of the Pakistani group involved in the case has not been mentioned, it most likely is Axact which allegedly ran more than 370 websites for fictitious schools, colleges and universities until recently. Following investigations by the Federal Investigation Agency the company is facing legal proceedings before a court and the closure of its upcoming venture, media outlet, BOL Network. Pakistan, however, is not the only country where people are using the Internet to sell degrees.

In fact, some such groups are said to be located in the US and possibly in Europe as well. So far no known action has been taken against any of them perhaps because Western countries have their own way of verifying academic credentials of people through a reference procedure. Yet the fact that this goes on using addresses in Western countries places a responsibility on them to clamp down on the practice. That should not be so difficult since a system is already in place to check cyber crimes as well as money laundering. Considering that the installation of Aung Suu Kyi’s democratic government in Myanmar is receiving a lot of Western attention, it is hoped the embarrassment, minister Kyaw’s case has caused the Nobel laureate right at the outset, international action against fraudsters selling fake degrees would be forthcoming.

Source: Business Recorder