NEW YORK, Sept. 6, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Last week a federal judge in the Southern District of New York issued an order that crippled one large and complex diploma mill engaged in online fraud. In its ruling, the court found that Amjad Pervaiz, Asif Sarwar Safi and AZM Technologies operated at least 32 individual websites under various names to lure unsuspecting adult learners into paying hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars for bogus online GED test credentials.
The judgment affirms that AZM Technologies exercised bad faith and engaged in fraudulent practices, ordered the shutdown of all websites, transferred all internet domains utilized in perpetuating the fraud to GED Testing Service, and granted an award of $6 million in damages. The court further imposed a permanent injunction that will allow GED Testing Service to take swift action in the event additional fraudulent websites are discovered.
"While this is a tremendous victory for the tens-of-thousands of unsuspecting adult learners victimized by fraudulent diploma mills, our work is far from complete," said GED Testing Service President Randy Trask. "Consumers, state attorneys general, and the entire adult education ecosystem need to be much more aware of the prevalence of and damage caused by these online diploma mills."
A GED Testing Service spokesperson said that in addition to this judgment helping them shut down one of the most prolific of the high school equivalency diploma mills, it will also make it easier to pursue other companies that use the GED trademark to deceive consumers. The judgment also prohibits third-party payment processors and other vendors from providing services that may facilitate any other fraudulent activities tied to this enterprise. As a consequence, the judgment gives GED Testing Service the tools to identify other possible scam websites and prevent the enterprise from resurfacing and carrying out its fraudulent activities under different names, companies, or websites.
Although the $6 million award is significant, and sends a strong message to others engaging in similar scams, it will likely prove to be symbolic. Trask acknowledged that in cases like these—where the scammers operate in relative anonymity outside the United States and use overseas bank accounts—damages are rarely collected. "We don't expect to collect much, if any, of the six million the court awarded," said Trask. "But I promise we will try and if we are successful, any funds collected that exceed our legal fees will be used to fund a scholarship program for financially strapped GED test-takers."
Heightened public awareness and sustained action by state attorneys general and departments of education are still necessary to reduce the number of adults who are scammed by these types of websites every year.
"There is only one official GED test that is recognized and used to award high school equivalency credentials in all 50 states and the District of Columbia," said Trask. "The GED test, whether taken on paper or on computer, is only given in person at an official GED testing center."
For more information about the GED test, information about fraudulent programs, and where you can report suspicious websites, visit www.GEDtestingservice.com/fraud.
About GED Testing Service
The GED test has opened doors to better jobs and college programs for more than 18 million graduates since 1942. Last year nearly 800,000 adults sat for the GED test, which is accepted by virtually all U.S. colleges and employers. As the creator of the one official GED test, GED Testing Service has a responsibility to ensure that the program continues to be a reliable and valuable pathway to a better life for the millions of adults without a high school diploma. GED Testing Service is a joint venture of Pearson and the American Council on Education (ACE).
For more information about GED Testing Service or about the GED Testing Service story, visit www.GEDtestingservice.com/educators/great-things.
SOURCE GED Testing Service