KUALA LUMPUR | A fraud investigation agency found that over one in 20 work applicants in Malaysia try to pass off fake academic qualifications while one in 10 holds credentials from unaccredited institutions.

According to The Star, the Akhbar and Associates agency that conduct backgrounds checks on potential hires for companies found that up to 7 per cent of people investigated had fake degrees while between 10 per cent and 15 per cent had degrees from unaccredited universities.

“Many of these people with fake degrees are applying for senior management jobs and it happens in multiple industries, including banks, clinics and hospitals,” said the agency’s managing director Datuk Akhbar Satar.

Akhbar’s revelation was in response to an Al-Jareeza 101 East documentary that found a company in Pakistan called Axact to be a degree mill from which jobseekers bought fake qualifications including doctorate and master’s degrees.

Axact was linked to over 370 fake online universities, which claimed to be based in the United States.

Raids and arrest made by Pakistani authorities on the company and its operators also unearthed a censored list of Axact clients that included 80 Malaysians with local addresses.

In the documentary, thousands of those with dubious qualifications were found to be working as doctors, nurses, teachers and engineers in South-East Asia, including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Akhbar stated that Malaysia was “one of the worst” countries with such problems because of poor backgrounds checking practices, saying companies rarely took legal action or lodge police reports against employees with fake qualifications

“In the end, these fake degree holders have no record of their fraud and will get a job in another company. They will continue to work in the system,” said Akhbar.

Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Rahmah Mohamed said organisations should not condone such behaviour.

“The Malaysian government has put the quality of higher education a priority as a key factor in producing competitive human resources and talent to support national advancement,” she said.