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Friday Jan 19 2018
Web Desk

My father lost nearly £500,000 to blackmailers, says son of Axact victim

Web Desk

Cecil Horner, a British citizen, was cheated into buying a fake degree from Axact, his son told BBC.

“My dad lost nearly £500,000 to blackmailers,” Horner’s son Malcolm said.

Horner was an engineer who had moved to Saudi Arabia for work, his son said. While he was working there, the man got a call from an individual posing as a Saudi official. Malcolm said the fake official told his father he needed certain qualifications to continue working in Saudi Arabia.

“If you suddenly pay over for a fake degree then they pretend [further],” Malcolm said. “Someone else gives you a phone call and says you’ve got a fake degree and you’ll have to pay money otherwise you’re going to jail.”

The bereaved son said they got to know about the degree when his father’s documents arrived in the UK.

“My dad was blackmailed and threatened at a time when he had a terminal illness,” the son said referring Horner being diagnosed with lung cancer.

Although Horner died in 2015, Malcolm warns anyone in his father’s position to “speak to someone about it, stop the payments, stop answering the phone calls. I really wish my dad had done that”.

An earlier report by the BBC had stated that thousands of UK nationals have bought fake degrees from Pakistani fake diploma mill Axact.

The investigation by the BBC Radio 4's File on 4 programme found that fake degrees were bought by National Health Service (NHS) consultants, nurses, and a large defence contractor in the UK.

According to the BBC, more than 3,000 fake Axact degrees were sold to UK-based buyers in 2013 and 2014, including master's degrees, doctorates, and PhDs.

However, on Friday, Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Mian Saqib Nisar took a suo motu notice of the Axact fake degree scandal.

The chief justice remarked, “Our heads hang in shame due to the scandal,” adding that those bringing a bad name to Pakistan will not be allowed to go scot-free.


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