Wednesday June 29, 2022

May 21, 2015

Declan Walsh tells all on how the Axact NYT article came into being

NEW YORK: Fresh revelations by The New York Times (NYT) journalist Declan Walsh on Thursday further expand upon the Axact scandal story and explain how it all started.

The NYT article published today, ‘Big Money, Phony Diplomas: Reporter’s Notebook’, says that Walsh had one question in mind: Just how was Axact, a company that billed itself as Pakistan’s biggest software firm but seemed to have few products, making its money?

The article goes on to say that Walsh spent three months putting together the story of how Axact took the age-old scam of selling fake academic degrees and turned it into an Internet-era scheme on a huge, global scale.

It also reveals that former Axact employees such as Yasir Jamshaid (a disillusioned former quality control official at the company, who had fled Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates) were key elements to his reporting.

“I flew to Abu Dhabi in February to hear Mr. Jamshaid’s story and, crucially, to review the customer records he had taken from Axact. These checked out, as did an account provided by Mohan, an Indian “graduate” of Axact’s Grant Town University who had very nearly lost $30,000 to the Pakistani company. Angry, yet ashamed of having been conned (a common sentiment among many former customers), Mohan insisted on meeting at midnight in a deserted coffee shop near his home.”

Walsh further says that he trawled through newspaper clippings, company registrations on blogs, Internet registration services and court records too.

He also says that “Griff Palmer of the New York Times computer-assisted reporting department supplied the last, invaluable piece of the Axact puzzle — working through the fake degree websites to find patterns that linked them to Axact. Griff tracked patterns, traced ownership and followed the digital bread crumbs of hundreds of fake education websites — all of which pointed toward Axact.”