By Lance Guma
LONDON – Flamboyant Zimbabwe preacher Prophet Uebert Angel has angrily denied buying a fake online business degree with a ‘diploma-mill scheme’ that was eventually shut down by authorities in the United States of America.
A US government sting called “Operation Gold Seal” busted a massive internet based business from Spokane in the US which sold 10,815 fake credentials to 9,612 people in 131 countries for a total of over US$7,3 million.
Court documents show that from 1999 to 2005, Dixie Ellen Randock, Steven Karl Randock, their daughter Heidi Kae Lorhan, Roberta Lynn Markishtum, Kenneth Wade Pearson, Richard John Novak, Blake Alan Carlson, and Amy Leann Hensley sold false and fraudulent academic products.
Nehanda Radio understands the scam sold products which included “degrees” from non-existent entities, counterfeit high school diplomas, fabricated college and graduate-level academic transcripts, and “professorships.”
“One investigator who posed as a retired Syrian military officer seeking an H1B visa was able to buy “degrees” that, if not detected, could conceivably have helped terrorists gain entry into the United States,” another report said.
Although the U.S. Department of Justice refused to release the complete list of people who bought the fake qualifications, a US newspaper called the Seattle Spokesman-Review got hold of the list and published it on the 28th of July 2008.
The list of buyers (see picture) can be searched by category and on it is ‘Uebert Mudzanire, Great Britain’ listed as having bought a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration (BBA). Mudzanire is Angel’s former legal surname.
But in an exclusive interview with Nehanda TV in the UK, Prophet Angel said:
“People are entitled to their own confusion and conclusions and in some cases confusion, then conclusion. I brought you conferment degree catalogues. After this you research it with my university.
“How do I buy a degree like you were saying, this is Business Administration, Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration when I have got degrees in Finance from the University of Salford (UK), postgraduate qualification in Education from the University of Bolton (UK).
“Why would I want Business Administration, with all due respect, I respect people who have done Business Administration and I know it’s a very good programme.
“But I can’t buy a Business Administration degree when you (I) have business finance. Business finance degree is a combination of business administration and finance. You don’t need to have business…
“….and in this case you understand we have what you call top ups in the UK. If I have two degrees in finance and if I wanted top up, I don’t even need to do a year, if I just wanted a degree. So you get a lot of these things.”
Prophet Angel called Salford University in the UK, in the presence of this journalist and the university confirmed that a Uebert Mudzanire Snr did have a degree in business from that University.
Graduation books and catalogues brought by Angel to the Nehanda TV studios also had the name Uebert Mudzanire Snr.
Asked why his name (Uebert Mudzanire) was on a leaked U.S. Department of Justice list of people who bought the fake degrees and diplomas, Prophet Angel said he did not know why and would be taking up the issue with those that had published the list.
The Spokesman-Review who published the list are a daily newspaper based in Spokane in the U.S. state of Washington. It is the city’s only daily publication and has the third highest readership among daily newspapers in Washington.
Prophet Angel claimed that ‘maybe’ those who had compiled the list had also included people who made enquiries without buying anything.
But investigations by Nehanda Radio showed that only people whose names are annotated with an asterisk (*) are not ‘confirmed’ degree buyers and may have just made enquiries without buying or had assisted in the investigations.
There is no asterisk (*) on Uebert Mudzanire’s name, implying he is a ‘confirmed’ buyer of a fake degree. Out of over 10 000 people on the list, Nehanda Radio understands only 27 of them are not confirmed buyers.
We have the full list of those 27 people and Mudzanire is not on it.
A July 2008 report on the Spokesman Review website said “There are people in high places with these degrees, and only one of them (former deputy U.S. marshal David F. Brodhagen) has been charged with a crime.”
Meanwhile the people who ran the diploma-mill scheme, each received a 3-year sentence followed by 3 years of court supervision. Steven was ordered to forfeit interest in over $500,000 in seized cash, property, and a 2001 Jaguar XK8.
Lorhan, Markishtum, and Pearson also received prison sentences. Novak, Carlson, and Hensley, who cooperated with government investigators, were placed on 3 of years’ probation and ordered to perform community service.
Government action to break up the ring was assisted by George Gollin, Ph.D. a University of Illinois physics professor who has worked relentlessly against credential fakery for many years.