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Residents fall victim to online degree scams
Residents fall victim to online degree scams

Many Qatar residents are being taken for a ride by fraudsters through promises of online educational degrees from universities purportedly operating from places like the US and UK, it is learnt.
Those involved in such operations are brokers who offer, on behalf of mostly non-existent universities, online doctorates and postgraduate and undergraduate degrees, which are of little value.
An Indian expatriate based in Doha explained to Gulf Times how “agents” of a so-called “university” from the US made him pay around $23,000 in a little over two years.
He also suspected the involvement of a local hand, as the “university’s” calls on his mobile came from within the country.
The expatriate’s experience, it appears, is similar to the case involving a Pakistani firm, accused by the New York Times (NYT) recently “of running a network of hundreds of websites for phoney universities as part of a fake degree scheme that generated tens of millions of dollars annually”.
The firm named in the NYT report, on its part, described the allegations as “baseless”.
Meanwhile, even two years after his doctorate mission began, the Doha expatriate’s worries seem to be far from over.
Until a week ago, representatives of the  “university” were demanding money from him for the “attestation” of his doctorate, claiming that “it had to be done at the Qatar embassy in the US”.
Calls were also reportedly made on his mobile number by a person who claimed to be a “senior official” at a “local education” office.
The “official” apparently told the expatriate that he had submitted a fake doctorate certificate for attestation at the embassy in the US. To avoid landing in trouble, he must remit a specific amount in less than 48 hours.
The repeated calls from the “official” left the expatriate worried. He also got calls on his number, apparently from the US, asking him to remit the money at the earliest to the “university’s account or prepare to face the consequences”.
The expatriate narrated his predicament to some friends who advised him to cancel the latest transaction with the “university’s” account from a bank in Doha.
Accordingly, the bank advised the corresponding bank in the US to cancel the transaction that he had made the previous day and saved the expatriate from losing another $2,000.
While recalling the sequence of events leading to the latest developments, the resident said as part of the “procedures” for securing the online degree, he had disclosed all his personal details online, including his mailing address in his hometown in India.
“This move seemed to have made things rather easy for the fraudsters,” he said.
The expatriate sought the intervention of some IT specialists and felt there were enough reasons for him to believe that hackers were also involved in the matter, obtaining the personal details of potential victims through sources such as job portals.
He also pointed out that there were many others who had fallen victim to such fraudulent practices.
A long-time Doha resident said some of his colleagues, including citizens and their friends, have also fallen victim to fraudsters promising online educational programmes.
He said he had received calls on his mobile, apparently from the US, more than once for undergoing a “doctoral programme of his choice” in one of the “universities” there. “I did not fall victim as I have heard about many such fake universities across the world,” he added.
“Even after I told the caller that I was not interested in such educational programmes, he called me later with more attractive offers.”
The issue is drawing attention around the world and it is reported that there are over 7,000 fake universities which exist mainly on paper.


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