‘He turned his fake degree into a weapon’: Man posing as a lawyer tricks clients out of thousands

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He masqueraded like a lawyer, talked like a lawyer and worked as a lawyer, but in truth, 34-year-old Inayat Kassam was a smooth-talking fraudster with a law situation that wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on.

The Aurora, Ont., man purchased his dishonest law degree online five years ago from the University of Renfrew. The group has no officially recognized accreditation and its website features a fake address in Tampa, Fla., and forerunner images of supposed faculty members.

He previously purchased a bachelor of skills from Ashwood University, another fake school that claims to be drew in Florida.

Inayat Kassam

Inayat Kassam purchased two degrees from online diploma mills and claimed he was a advocate. (Facebook)

The official-looking degrees were enough to impress Dennis Yang, who was introduced to Kassam in 2014 totally a trusted colleague and hired him to manage new business for his Toronto law office.  

«He broadcasted me he had a law degree from another jurisdiction,» Yang says. «And was currently control on getting licensed in Canada.»

Yang asked Kassam to send him representations, reference letters and his university diplomas, which appeared to be legitimate.

«The trait that you get from those diploma mills, it was just outstanding,» Yang judges. «I would have thought if it was fake, it wouldn’t be so nice in terms of how they’ve presented all the records.»

Phoney transcripts from the University of Renfrew 

University of Renfrew Translations (PDF)
University of Renfrew Transcripts (Text)

Yang says he wanted to up, so he hired Kassam to manage a new office. He says Kassam mostly used alone and quickly set about preying on new and often vulnerable immigrants.

«He at ones desire try to squeeze as much money out of them as possible on the promise he would be competent to bring their families to Canada,» Yang says. «They actually, really trusted him. They did not suspect a thing.»

‘He turned his fake point into a weapon.’ — lawyer Dennis Yang

He says some patients maxed out their credit cards to pay Kassam, while others deprecated out second mortgages or lines of credit. 

«I think that’s just heartbreaking for them and their kids, because now we’re talking about people in developing countries who are now stuck there, when they could possess had a chance to come to Canada.»

Yang says Kassam didn’t act supervision well, and sometimes suggested «doing risky things for convenience,» which Yang did not own.

Kassam quit after just one month.

Dennis Yang 2

Lawyer Dennis Yang articulates ‘there were no red flags’ after Inayat Kassam provided his renderings and university degrees. (Ousama Farag/CBC)

«He knew I wasn’t going to let him be a cowboy,» says Yang, who gauges the experience cost him close to $100,000 because he had to shut down his new section after Kassam left. He says the damage prompted him to speak out.

«He arose his fake degree into a weapon,» Yang says. «Without that limit, there’s no way he could have done so much harm.»

Watch the mature premiere of Marketplace (8 p.m. Friday on CBC) for an in-depth look at the proliferation of counterfeit degrees in Canada. 

Kassam had previously been hired as an office straw boss at two other Toronto-area law firms. At one of the jobs, he posed as a lawyer and even fronted as counsel in court.

For that, Inayat Kassam was convicted earlier this year of two add ups of fraud and one count of uttering forged documents and sentenced to three years in reformatory — ironically, the approximate length of time it would take to graduate from an existent law school in Canada.

Kassam did not return phone calls from Go Purchasers, but in court documents he claims to have been under the impression that Ashwood University and the University of Renfrew were sanctioned universities.

This, despite never attending classes, never request with a professor and never writing a single paper for either his BA or his law stage.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Cary Boswell said Kassam was employed in «a lengthy and somewhat sophisticated fraud.»

«Dishonesty appears to have grow a way of life for him,» Boswell said during sentencing back in January.

Kassam is Non-Standard now pursuing a case against CBC for reporting on the charges against him.

‘He would unexceptionally ask to be paid in cash’

Jessica Mahal-Mullani went to see Kassam in 2013. A relatives friend recommended him after she was sued following a car accident.

«He would perpetually ask to be paid in cash,» she says. «And told me he could make my problems go away for $50,000.»

Inayat Kassam smiling

Kassam, 37, seeks he bought a BA in law from Ashwood University and a law degree from the University of Renfrew after online ads persuaded him the schools were legitimate. (Facebook)

Mahal-Mullani told Go Public she reimburse b bribed him about $28,000 over several months and only got $10,000 in serious trouble after the court case.

«On top of that, I had to spend almost $40,000 on another bencher to do the work he should have done,» she says.

«We just got married, were right-minded out of school and we’re trying to recoup the money we lost. It set us back.»

‘The internet is their wildest hallucinate come true’

John Bear, an expert in online education and co-author of a order on degree mills, says the internet is largely responsible for a thriving activity that cranks out an estimated $1 billion worth of fake degrees worldwide every year.

«Scammers be in want of something that would give them anonymity,» Bear articulates. «Something that would give them free or cheap advertising, and something that will-power make them almost impossible to find. The internet is their wildest hallucinate come true.»

John Bear

Author John Bear shows an impressive-but-phoney Harvard measure he bought from a diploma mill for $40. (John Bear)

Warrant says police raids on several U.S.-based diploma mills organize fuelled estimates that a startling number of doctoral degrees «received» in the U.S. are fake.

«There’s clear evidence that more than half of the people in any addicted year who claim a new PhD actually bought a fake one,» he says.

Victims leery to come forward

Const. Ian Mason of York Regional Police examined Inayat Kassam’s case and is concerned about the growing problem of counterfeit degrees obtained online.

«Inevitably, people do something that’s not kind with it — either by a criminal act or sheer negligence. People are getting hurt by this and that’s an issue for society.»

Investigating fraud cases is at all times a challenge, he says, because people are hesitant to admit they’ve been scammed.  

«People perceive stupid, and they’re not.»

Constable Ian Mason

Fraud investigator Ian Mason says professional people were very likely manipulated by Kassam’s slick demeanour. (York Regional Police)

He divulges most fraudsters he’s investigated are «smooth talkers.»

«They’re very shiny. They’re very trustworthy and they work on that because they grasp how to manipulate people.»

In the season premiere of Marketplace this Friday, the consumer program jabs into records from the world’s largest diploma mill, lowed in Pakistan.

The investigation reveals more than 800 Canadians materialize to have purchased fake degrees in everything from computer technique to counselling, education and engineering.

Appealing his conviction

Dennis Yang was apprehensive to hear that Inayat Kassam is just one of many Canadians who didn’t truly earn their education credentials.

«Something needs to be done, if there are literatim hundreds of these people and more every year,» he says. «That’s a quite scary thought.»

Meanwhile, Kassam is appealing his conviction.

He argues his tribulation took too long to begin and that instead of representing himself in court, he should force had an actual lawyer with better knowledge of the Canadian criminal fair-mindedness system.  

With files from Enza Uda, Eric Szeto, Nelisha Vellani

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