Nagaraju, who was also known as Arya Vardhan Raaz, first got himself over 20 fake doctorates before starting to sell them to others as well.

Hyderabads Doctor conman who duped students with fake PhDs arrested
news Crime Monday, November 27, 2017 - 15:22

At first glance, Dr Arya Vardhan Raaz would seem like an extraordinary genius to anyone. After all, how many people can claim to have a Guinness World Record certificate for being the youngest man with 32 doctorates? And to have Memorandums of Understanding with some of the top international universities?

Sounds too good to be true? It actually was.

Arya, whose real name is Nagaraju but who also goes by the alias Sourya Pratap Rana, was arrested by the Hyderabad police on Sunday from Santoshnagar. According to the police, he had cheated 15 people after promising to get them PhD degrees. 11 of those people had filed complaints against him.

The 27-year-old, who hails from Vishakhapatnam, ran a business of providing fake degrees to students for a price upwards of Rs 10,000, said the police. Nagaraju lured his victims by promising to get them doctoral degrees within 6 months without even submitting a thesis.

Speaking to TNM, East Zone Task Force Additional DCP Chaitanya Kumar said, “He was caught after 11 out of 15 persons complained of cheating. His residence was full of photos with eminent personalities, which he used to cheat the people.”

The police recovered letter heads, fake stamps, 25 fake PhD certificates, 2 fake Guinness World Record certificates and 2 fake Master’s degrees from his possession. On these certificates, Nagaraju used the name Arya Vardhan Raaz.

Two hard disks, two laptops, a colour printer and scanner, a high-end camera, and 10 pass-books from different banks were also seized.

Modus operandi

In 2014, Nagaraju first saw an advertisement of an institute near SR Nagar that had been accredited by foreign universities and allowed students to obtain PhDs from them legally. The idea of procuring fake PhD certificates struck him then.

According to the police, Nagaraju first obtained four fake PhD certificates from a man named Devdas, an NGO worker, by paying him Rs 6,000. He then got 18 more fake degrees from another man named Arputha Raj from Coimbatore.

“He got 18 fake doctorates in various fields from Arputha Raj paying him huge amount. Subsequently both of them started preparing fake doctorates of international universities in Karmanghat and providing them to gullible persons in the name of obtaining Honorary Doctorates and PhD certificates from international universities without submitting thesis,” a police press note states.

DCP Chaitanya also told TNM that the duo charged gullible students on a sliding scale, depending on their financial capability.

To draw more victims, Nagaraju built a reputation for himself by showcasing his fake PhDs and photos with celebrities. He even claimed to have started a program for organ donation, and that he had shot 70 short films with celebrities on social issues. Nagaraju also boasted of being a motivational speaker.

It wasn’t just students who got drawn into his schemes either. Showing his fake degrees, Nagaraju even got a bank to loan him Rs 8 lakh.

The police are currently trying recover an amount of Rs 3.5 lakh, which Nagaraju had taken from various cheated students. “However, his bank accounts are empty. But we are looking for other alternatives,” the DCP said. 

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