(Reuters) - The executive of a Pakistani company was charged in a U.S. federal court on Wednesday for his part in an alleged $140 million “fake-diploma mill” scheme, the latest step in a global crackdown touched off by arrests in Pakistan last year.
Umair Hamid, 30, was charged in a criminal complaint filed in federal court in Manhattan with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scam that impacted tens of thousands of consumers.
Hamid, an executive at software firm Axact, was arrested on Monday, according to a statement by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Hamid’s lawyer could not be immediately identified. An email sent to Axact seeking comment bounced back.
Pakistan had asked U.S. authorities last year to help it investigate Axact, which had been suspected of earning millions of dollars from the sale of bogus university degrees online.
Hamid resumed selling fake diplomas, duping U.S. consumers into paying upfront fees to enroll in fake high schools and colleges even after Pakistani authorities shut Axact down in May 2015, according to Bharara’s statement.
“Hamid allegedly took hefty upfront fees from young men and women seeking an education, leaving them with little more than useless pieces of paper,” Bharara said.
Reporting by Nathan Layne and Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler