Lawyers for 30,000 Americans scammed by a bogus degree mill linked to Pakistani company Axact are calling on the US government to act in the case, says a report by a US newspaper.
An investigative report by The New York Times last week accused Karachi-based company Axact of reaping millions of dollars by selling fake academic degrees online.
The NYT report mentioned the class action lawsuit filed by two US attorneys as part of the larger on-going international scam of selling fake degrees run by the firm, which has become the focus of massive a criminal investigation in Pakistan following the NYT investigative story.
Attorneys at the Googasian Law Firm in Bloomfield Hills, which represents 30,000 victims of the scam, now say they are hoping to achieve justice for the thousands of Americans who were harmed by “crooks”.
The US authorities have enough material to act on the case, attorney Dean Googasian told The Oakland Press.
A US District Court in Detroit gave a $22 million judgement in favor of the 30,000 Americans almost three years ago, but the money has not been collected because the defendant is outside of the US.
The 30,000 American victims received fake degrees from Belford High School and University, which has been linked to the alleged global scam run by Axact.
“They preyed on people in Michigan and throughout the country for years,” said Tom Howlett, another attorney who represents the plaintiffs. “It was a case about a fake high school being run by a bunch of scam artists.”
“The crooks behind this scam are using the US mails, they are using the wires here through the internet and telephone, they are utilizing the name and signature of the Secretary of State John Kerry and the former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and they are ripping off American citizens,” said Googasian. “All of which give the US government ample incentive to put a stop to it.”
Howlett said the US Attorney’s office, the Justice Department and the State Department in Washington, DC should look into the matter.
A call to the US Attorney’s office in Detroit seeking comments on the case has not been returned yet, said the report published by The Oakland Press.
One of the thousands of victims, 31-year-old Elizabeth Lauber, said she paid about $300 for what she was made to believe was an accredited degree from Belford High School, only to find out if was bogus when she applied to university for higher education.
According to court records, the school was associated with addresses in Panama and also in Texas.
During a court deposition, the defendant, Salem Kureshi, who appeared via Skype from a dark room in Pakistan, said he started the online school. His attorneys later withdrew from the case.
Lauber said her goal is not to get the amount back she paid for the fake degree but to make sure it doesn’t happen again with anyone else.
“I just want them to stop cheating and lying to other people,” she told the newspaper.