A bogus institution called “Suwen University of Hong Kong” has shut down its website after it was found to have been selling fake diplomas and degrees on Taobao, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.
Taobao, the mainland’s largest online shopping platform, was criticized recently by a state regulator for offering fake merchandise.
The non-existent university claimed to have been founded in 1989 and registered in Hong Kong, but the Education Bureau denied it had ever been registered.
Suwen sold various diplomas for correspondence degrees on the e-commerce platform, owned by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Customers could pay between 100 yuan (US$15.97) and 1,000 yuan for a diploma for an associate’s degree, bachelor’s degree or master’s degree to be delivered within 10 days without having to take any courses.
Suwen said on its website it helped to produce programs for advanced study every week on the Pearl channel operated by Television Broadcasts Ltd. (00511.HK). In fact, the “Open for Learning” programs are produced by the Open University of Hong Kong.
The fake university digitally superimposed its name and logo on photographs of Hong Kong landmarks such as the International Finance Center and Harbour City, suggesting it had campuses in those locations.
It also published on its website a photo showing Chinese University of Hong Kong vice-chancellor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu with CUHK students.
CUHK said in a statement such an act is totally intolerable and it reserves the right to pursue legal action.
The official Xinhua news agency, which reported the scam on Monday, praised the fake university last year for training talent.
And the online encyclopedia operated by Baidu.com, the mainland’s largest search engine, included a page introducing the university, Apple Daily reported.
A call made by the newspaper’s reporter to a phone number for Suwen’s office — the address of which was given as being in Lucky Plaza on Lockhart Road in Wanchai — was answered by an employee of a secretarial service firm.
After the news about the fake university went viral online, Chen Jian, who claimed to be chairman of the Hong Kong Suwen University Education Development Group, apologized, saying some agencies in the mainland mistakenly failed to get approval from his company before they granted degree certificates without its authorization.
The diplomas are fake and are not recognized legally, Chen said.
He said he will sue the agencies and has sacked those who “mistakenly” posted the photos.
– Contact us at [email protected]