Fake Indian degrees flood Middle East market
DUBAI - India churns out brilliant graduates by the thousands every year. But, unfortunately, it also churns out fake degrees by the thousands.
`Manufacturing' fake certificates is a money-minting industry that has never stopped churning business for the people involved in it. The effect of such fakes is being felt globally, including the UAE and other AGCC countries, who, now insist on all certificate - degrees or otherwise - being attested and certified by the appropriate authorities.
While some fakes manage to slip through the scrutiny net, a few don't. A Khaleej Times investigation landed us with some of the fakes that had been caught -though attested!
Paul Kane, Director, Business Development for Quest Research Limited, one of Asia's leading corporate screening companies which conducts pre- employment background checks for leading Fortune 500 companies said that the Middle East market was increasingly being inundated by fake certificates by individuals desperate to land a job here.
'Out of the total number of cases we get for background screenings in the Middle East, nearly 25 per cent of the people end up holding fake academic degrees or certificates. India is a massive market and we conduct nearly 5,000 background checks for companies who hire people from there. On an average, about 10 cases of people holding fake degrees, who are interested to come to the Middle East, are discovered by our staff. It is a huge problem and companies also suffer due to this predicament,' he said.
Many agents also say that it is quite difficult to spot a fake degree nowadays, as it resembles an original one in every way- from the texture of the paper to the university stamp. But there also some cases in which the degree holders don't even bother in making a real effort to conceal their fraud.
Said Mr. Kane, 'We have had certain cases of people making up university names which do not even exist. Names such as Commercial University Ltd. of New Delhi, are regularly used by fake degree holders to gain employment. Employers should be more wary of hiring such people and should definitely conduct a background check on them.'
Several attestation companies which deal with attesting certificates on behalf of residents in Dubai, when contacted by this paper, conceded that they receive a number of enquiries from individuals with fake degrees over here.
'On an average, we get almost 10 enquiries a month from people with fake degrees who want to know whether it is possible to get their certificates attested without detection from both the Indian and UAE authorities. In such cases, we refuse to entertain such requests and try to dissuade them from going through with these illegal activities, as it would directly harm our reputation as well. But, there are certain agents who do go ahead with authenticating such degrees as the money involved is quite a bit,' said Raman, a manager at a Dubai based attestation company.
Direct fallout of fake degrees flooding the market and drowning the attestation authorities is the pressure it has brought to bear on them in India. They have to, literally, deal with mountains of certificates every day, coming in from all corners of the country, with almost little or no time to cross-check on their validity or otherwise.
Each attestation authority depends on the other to spot a fake. And it is this dependence that allows the industry to mushroom with no threat of detection. This, however, say some, is not an excuse for the Indian authorities to turn a blind eye to such cases.
'Granted that nowadays, people are selling fake degrees which look like the real McCoy from every angle but it shouldn't be difficult for authorities in India to detect such cases as they handle thousands of degrees every day. This just shows that money can buy you anything in this world, including an academic qualification,' said Neeta Goplani, an Account Executive.
As the mountain of certificates sent from within India and the Gulf states grow, so do the problems of expatriates wanting to get their attestations done in time.
Said Pradeep Gupta, an Accountant, 'Due to the number of fake degrees which are floating in Delhi, the amount of time it takes for genuine degree holders to get their certificates attested increases manifold. There should be a mechanism through which the agents are dissuaded to accept fake degrees from such fraudulent people as it is ultimately the common man which is suffering in the end.'
There are also people like Saluahddin, a genuine degree holder, who has been harassed by the Indian authorities which cited his certificates as being 'fake'.
' Since I could not get leave from work, I had to rely on some agents to get my attestations done for me in India. Imagine my surprise and horror, when the Ministry rejected my degree on the basis that it hailed from Andhra Pradesh, a state notorious for its fake degree racket. My ailing mother then had to go back to my university to get a letter from them stating that I was indeed a bonafide student. People with fake degrees spoil the procedure for the resort of us as everybody then looks at us with suspicious eyes,' he complained.
Another agent told this paper that despite strict action taken by the UAE authorities against people caught with fake degrees, this has not decreased the number of such cases coming up, but has instead increased them.
'Ever since the mandatory rule of attesting certificates came into force, we have noticed a general increase in the number of fake certificates coming to us for attestations. The demand for employment in the Gulf is still very attractive to people living in India and Pakistan and many of them resort to fudging up their credentials in order to secure a job,' said H.Singh, a recruitment agent.
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