A while ago, I was disappointed from our Lebanese universities. I wanted to pursue a Master’s degree but did not find the course, I was looking for. So I asked Google for help, and it gave me plenty of choices, so I applied but received no answer back except for one university in Turkey. Later on, an American university also called and proposed to me a Master’s degree in Logistics and Management in line with my BA. This was three years ago.
But again two weeks ago, and out of the blue, I received a 17-minute call. It was the first call of a series of phone calls and emails that I received over those two weeks.
As you may or may not be aware, I am unemployed for 7 months, now, which means I can’t afford any payment they might ask for. However, I did listen to what they had to say, out of my belief that those people were only doing their job.
On the other hand, I did get suspicious about their intentions to steal from me money that I don’t have!
I opened up about my concerns. I asked my inquisitor how I could trust them. Would this certificate be signed by the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon, as it is the only official representative of USA in my country? He didn’t give me any direct answer but suggested that I make a Live Chat with his manager. I agreed, provided that no video chat would be involved, and I asked the manager the same question. He answered by referring me to several links where I could check them out and make sure they were real.
He then inquired about the method of payment, I told him about my financial situation, so he suggested I make the payment over two settlements, before and after receiving the certificate.
Till here everything seemed fine, and above suspicion, until he asked if I would pay through bank wire or credit/debit card, I answered that I would pay by card, without specifying which one, but he sounded satisfied with the answer.
After, I received an agreement email and a phone call at the same time. I didn’t pick up; I replied the next day.
After all those calls and emails, I started my own research on the Social Media, and here is what I found:
1- No Facebook page, no mentions, no hashtags, no photos of anyone taken in this campus. Instead, I found another “St. Martinville University” that obviously wasn’t the one at hand.
2- I looked up their phone number; the result given was “PRW & Associates”.
3- I tried to searched for the Facebook page on Google; content not found.
4- The account on Twitter was fake, only 1 following.
5- Again I used Google search This time around, as I wrote the university name, Google gave me several suggestions, among which was “Martinville University Fake”. I picked this option and fell on some feedbacks!
6- I wrote the name again; Google corrected it to “Martinsville University”.
7- If you want to find their website, you should write the whole link “www.MartinvilleUniversity.com”; or you won’t find it. “A description for this result is not available…”
8- I checked Google maps and what I found was disastrous; “American National University” What??
9- I used Truecaller –a mobile application that helps people find details about any contact by entering the name or phone number, or identify unknown calls or block spams – check below what I found.
10- Instagram; nothing at all
Long story short, I am aware that a university or school may choose not to be on Social Media, but nowadays the social media can help a president win the elections!! So how would any university attract students without any presence on such platforms! Let’s us say, this one was just a university online, with no physical campus, but rather an office. But even in this case, their presence online is a must; what kind of website was it if one can’t access it unless by typing the entire link? A university ONLINE that I couldn’t find online! How ironic!
Before publishing this article, I contacted my friend “Mahmoud Ghazayel” to help me uncover the truth. If I was going to frame the University for Sham, at least I should be utterly sure about.
Mahmoud’s search rendered surprising facts. He visited their website to analyze it:
- A professionally developed website, in terms of designs, links and the course distribution; in short, everything about it was PERFECT! But there is a BUT!!
- The first page showed that the people in the picture posed artificially instead of being spontaneous and casual; how is this relevant? Because usually university websites display pictures of their students as a cover photo, in events or in pages.
- The cover photo showed a green prairie, which Mahmoud found to be a “stock” picture, i.e. one you can buy from the internet. The stock link and the description below: “https://depositphotos.com/10105273/stock-photo-students-in-trinity-college-dublin.html” – Students in Trinity College, Dublin DUBLIN, IRELAND – MARCH 29: students enjoying outdoors at the cricket field in the Trinity College on March 29, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland.Ranked in 2011 by The Times as the 117th world’s best university. – www.depositphotos.com
- Mahmoud also looked into the published theses; the content was good, and believable. He realized that the instructors’ names were different in each thesis, and only their first names were mentioned. Is it possible that the university is not proud of its staff and therefore only mentions their first names? And where is the right of these instructors in having their full names mentioned? The link: www.martinvilleuniversity.com/academics/doctorate-degree/
- Mahmoud chose a photo randomly and did a small research; here is the result: “http://aminomail.com/page/cartoon/2153212/manolo-urruti”,
- He picked another photo too, the same result appeared, only with a name different than the one mentioned by the university. The link: https://www.linkedin.com/in/yasin-karsoo-86440280/”
- Also one of the things which caught Mahmoud’s attention was the phone number. It was scanned so as not to copy and paste it. And as I mentioned before my search showed that their phone number belonged to another company, and that’s why they made it hard for the internet users to copy; the only way was to write it down and dial it later to make the call; and as you know the internet platforms such as Skype or Google compete over upgrades such as clickable phone number, so why is this university out of such competition?
- Regarding the certification departments, Mahmoud found that they were accredited in all countries around the world, which made no sense. The link: www.martinvilleuniversity.com/explore/accreditation/
In particular, the “Certification and Accreditation for the Arab region” was an unusual department in both physical and online universities. When establishing such department, an Arab person should be appointed in the committee, either as a member or a person in charge as he or she would be more knowledgeable about the Arab region; They have “Name and foreign signature” for this department!!
- Mahmoud likes the Investigation, so he went to some known website like Bayt.com & LinkedIn which had no mentions of this university; whatsoever; so basically, so no one in the entire world has graduated from this university!
I asked Google: “how many users does LinkedIn have”, the answer was: “This timeline displays member numbers of social network LinkedIn from the first quarter of 2009 to the third quarter of 2016, in millions. During the most recently reported quarter, LinkedIn had 467 million members, up from 450 million members in the preceding quarter” from www.statista.com , NO COMMENT!!
- As a final step, Mahmoud visited the following link: “http://www.scamadviser.com/check-website/martinvilleuniversity.com”; he learned that the university website was developed only 6 months ago! And all the main information is hidden, but usually the official websites have nothing to hide specially the main information that gives them credibility; another link confirming the fraud is “https://www.scamguard.com/martinvilleuniversitycom/ SCAMGUARD™ | Martinvilleuniversity.com. This link showed 2 complaints about applicants who are asked to pay money in exchange for a scholarship.
Thank you Mahmoud Ghazayel for your efforts in doing the research to spread the truth to the people; you can follow Mahmoud on his personal account on twitter: @ghazayel or subscribe to his blog مجة to stay tuned to more facts. http://ghazayel.com/
As far as I am concerned, I’d rather not make any judgments on this or any other university, and I will not confirm or debunk the allegations that this university is in fact fake, especially that they were highly courteous with me in their phone calls, emails, and chats. That’s why, I will refrain from any bitter comment, but rather leave the ball in your court so you can judge for yourselves, based on the arguments and facts I presented.
Before wrapping this up, I have one more thing to add. The man who called me, told me that by obtaining this certificate, will be entitled to the U.S. Green Card. I laughed and my reaction surprised him. I told him that the Green Card was not a goal or a priority to me, and that all that I wanted was to deepen my knowledge. This was yet another argument he used to bring me on board, and this argument is in fact being used consistently with Arabs! Yes, it is totally frustrating to see Westerns think of us like a bunch of people wishing to leave their countries.
Are we so naïve to fall for such sham? I think not, otherwise I would not go through all the trouble of searching the internet high and low before making any step further.
In conclusion advise you all not to do the same mistake I did, even if you were frustrated and depressed from your situation. Do not apply to anything unless you read carefully through it, check the social media to search for what you want, be it people, figures or facts.
Thank you for your attention
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Special Thank you for the Editor: Mrs. Marwa Hariri Tamim; she is Translator/Conference Interpreter, for any help you can contact her; Email: [email protected]