A Pakistani man pled guilty April 6, in New York, to running a massive international “diploma mill” from Pakistan, that collected tens of millions of dollars from thousands of customers, selling them completely fake certifications from non-existent institutions.
Umair Hamid, a/k/a “Shah Khan,” a/k/a the “Shah,” pled guilty before U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams to allegations made in the indictment and the related criminal Complaint, that he and his co-conspirators lied to customers, on websites and over the phone, tricking them into enrolling in non-existent colleges and high schools, and issuing fake diplomas after being paid upfront fees from consumers.
Hamid, 31, of Karachi, Pakistan, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
“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,” said Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Joon H. Kim.
Through a company called Axact, which described itself as a global leader in information technology, Hamid and others duped individuals from the U.S. and across the world into enrolling in the 350 fictitious high schools and universities.
Since 2014, Axact received approximately 5,000 phone calls per day from interested individuals given fictitious addresses when they asked for the locations of institutions.
Once a consumer paid for a school certificate or diploma that falsely reflected a completed course of study, Axact sales agents persuaded them to buy additional “accreditation” or “certifications” for such certificates or diplomas in order to make them appear more legitimate.
Fake institutions, fake stamps supposedly bearing the seal and signature of the U.S. Secretary of State, as well as various state agencies and federal and state officials, were used on the fake certificates.
Hamid acted as Axact’s “Assistant Vice President of International Relations,” making various false and fraudulent claims to sell fake diplomas. He also opened bank accounts in the United States in the names of shell entities he controlled, which received funds transferred by consumers in exchange for fake diplomas. He transferred funds from those bank accounts to bank accounts associated with other entities located elsewhere in the United States and abroad.
In May 2015, Axact was shut down by Pakistani law enforcement, and certain individuals associated with Axact were prosecuted in Pakistan. Hamid however, resumed his fraudulent business after that and most recently, traveled to the United States in 2016 in order to open a bank account used to collect money from defrauded consumers.
Law enforcement in the U.S. is asking any other victims to call the U.S. Attorney’s Office at (866) 874-8900.