KARACHI: The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has recently raided two big software houses in Karachi and now looking for others to hunt those involved in making fake degrees and certificates from Pakistan.

The FIA action has spread panic in the software industry as more than 4,000 software engineers and other staff can become jobless.

The story of fake degrees and certificates commenced in May 2015, when Axact Software Company offices were raided in Karachi’s Defence on the complaints of the US officials after an article was published in the New York Times.

With the closure of the Axact, big brokers and other businessmen jumped into the software house business and hired those on high salaries who had been working with the Axact.

“The recent raids by the FIA’s cybercrime wing on two software houses in Karachi were in connection with those employees who had joined Digitonics and ABTACH software houses,” an FIA official said requesting anonymity.

“The companies’ CEOs through the Axact staff developed the same technique which the Axact was using,” he claimed.

The Pakistani software industry is “not on the right track and the FIA” is also monitoring two more software houses in Karachi, but the official did not disclose their name.

According to the FIRs, Digitonics and ABTACH were also involved in making fake degrees and certificates for the US and other countries from Pakistan as this is the most profitable business.

“By making a website you earn $500, but you can earn $5,000 to $10,000 by making a fake certificate of any renowned university of the US,” the official claimed. Pakistani people in those software companies are marketing such illegal work in the US and other countries. The foreigners offer $20,000 to $30,000 for a fake degree of any institution, the official claimed.

In Pakistan, thousands of software houses are working and earning billions of dollars. According to an estimate, earnings of the Pakistani software industry had touched $1.5 billion to $2 billion during the last year. The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP), meanwhile, reported that the country’s freelancers also earn $1.2 billion in software exports and they are not registered.

According to the FIA official, the Digitonics owners and their employees were involved in blackmailing and extorting money from their customers after gaining their personal information by impersonating themselves as officials of the US, the UK, and the UAE. These scammers direct customers for filing for trademarks and direct them to deposit forex for trademark registration while charging them a minimum of $100 to initiate the process, the official added.

The impact of these scams is not only contributing to an increase in the crime rate, but it will also damage the reputation of Pakistan worldwide, the FIA official claimed.

After Digitonics, the FIA raided ABTACH offices in March this year. It was a big software house in Karachi, which was being run by a stockbroker. No arrest has been made till now because of a pending petition in the Sindh High Court. However, the FIA claimed that it has seized record of the case and it also found that ABTACH was also involved in fake degree and certificate trade.


Prime Minister Imran Khan recently announced to build Special Technology Zones (STZs) for the IT industry to support its growth and improve ease of doing business. The prime minister said in Lahore recently that “he is looking the IT industry export at $5 billion by the end of 2023,” and added he saw a lot of potential and growth in the Pakistani IT sector.

The STZs decision was taken by the prime minister on the demand from the IT industry to provide opportunities for medium and small-scale IT enterprises to have less infrastructure cost and overheads to enable them to do their business and earn forex for the country by exporting their skills.

Though the proposal made headway earlier and reached the Planning Commission, the budget for it was never approved. The stakeholders are now hoping that PM Imran will make things happen for them.


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