KARACHI, Pakistan – Pakistani authorities on Wednesday detained the owner of a software company accused of running a global network in selling fake degrees, officials said.
In a raid on the Axact company offices in the southwestern port city of Karachi, investigators also seized hundreds of thousands of fake degrees, said Shahid Hayat, the provincial director for Pakistani federal investigation agency.
The police are investigating the company and its owner, Shoaib Sheikh, on charges of marketing online degrees from nonexistent schools and universities.
Axact is said to have made millions of dollars from the scam and was supposedly going to launch a TV channel in Pakistan when a New York Times report exposed the alleged fraud earlier this month.
Sheikh and several others were detained after the case was registered on charges of fraud, forgery and cybercrime, Hayat said. It was not immediately known how many people were arrested in all.
"We have seized hundreds of thousands of fake degrees," Hayat told reporters at the scene in Karachi. "We have enough evidence to proceed. We have forensic evidence."
The police also sealed the office building, where Hayat said machinery and gadgets were found that were used in the fraudulent business.
Area magistrate Javed Malik, who supervised the operation, said those detained would be brought before a court later on Wednesday.
The software company has described the case against it as a conspiracy by rival media groups, and insisted that it wasn't involved in any illegal activity.
Local TV footage broadcast images said to be of a room at the company offices, showing what looked like diplomas stacked on shelves along the wall. Hayat also showed off to reporters at the scene what he said were fake university accreditations and student ID cards found at the premises.