UMAIR Hamid, 31, of Karachi, Pakistan, was on Monday sentenced to 21 months in prison in New York for his role in an international diploma mill scheme operated through the Pakistani company Axact. He pleaded guilty on April 6 to conspiracy to commit wire fraud.
Hamid entered the guilty plea before U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams, who imposed Monday’s sentence, according to Joon H. Kim, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Kim said: “Umair Hamid and Axact operated a massive diploma mill that preyed on consumers who thought their tuition would pay for a college education. Instead, Hamid provided victims with worthless fake diplomas. Defendants like Hamid who profit from fake schools face very real penalties, including prison time.”
According to documents filed in this case and statements made in related court proceedings, Hamid helped run a massive diploma mill through his employer, Axact, which has held itself out as one of the world’s leading information technology providers.
Hamid and his co-conspirators deceived individuals across the world, including throughout the U.S., into enrolling in supposed high schools, colleges, and universities. Consumers paid upfront fees, believing that in return they would be enrolled in real educational courses and, eventually, receive legitimate degrees. Instead, consumers received no instruction and worthless diplomas.
Hamid, who served most recently as Axact’s Assistant Vice President of International Relations, helped Axact conduct the fraud in the U.S., among other locations. On Axact’s behalf, he served as the primary contact during negotiations with a former competitor for Axact’s acquisition of websites for fake educational institutions. Under Axact’s control, those websites then continued to deceive consumers into paying upfront enrollment fees for non-existent educational programs.
In May 2015, Pakistani authorities shut down Axact and arrested multiple individuals associated with the company for participating in the diploma mill operation. But Hamid, who was not arrested at that time, continued to work in furtherance of the fraudulent business, even personally traveling to the United States in 2016 to open a bank account used to collect money from defrauded consumers.
Kim said that in addition to the prison term, Hamid was ordered to forfeit $5,303,020.
If you believe you were a victim of this crime, including a victim entitled to restitution, and you wish to provide information to law enforcement and / or receive notice of future developments in the case or additional information, contact the Victim / Witness Unit at the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, at (866) 874-8900. For additional information, go to http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/nys/victimwitness.html.