Thinking that they were being genuinely prep for travel to Guyana to pursue a medical degree with an offshore university, more than 200 young people in India are now counting their losses, and at least four of them have committed suicide, after realizing that they were actually defrauded of their money and their dreams by a bogus student recruiter and his wife.
The nightmarish experience for the students actually began more than three weeks ago, after a multitude of issues began to surface regarding the credibility of at least two of the offshore medical universities that they were enrolled into; – a factor that forced them to demand a refund from the university agents in India.
Many of the students had argued that at least the Guyana based offshore university did not have the international accreditation status that it has claimed, and that its degrees were not accepted in the United States and Canada.
The affected prospective students who had formed a network to exchange information among each other, had made a decision to get the police in India involved after their demand for a refund was not being adhered to. But they were too late.
This is because before the police could have made an early morning raid at the Karnataka, Tamil Nadu offices of the husband and wife team that was working as agents for the Guyana-based offshore University, they had long fled the country.
An international hunt is now on to locate Mr Gopi Venkata Rao and his wife Nikhila Rao, both of whom were identified as owners of the student recruitment establishment.
The Indian Express and another newspaper, the Decan Herald which had first reported the story, indicated that six of the couples staffs were arrested and had published their names (see that article Here)
However, that publication stated that apart from Guyana, students were also being recruited to under the false belief that they would also be able to study in the United States and China. It also quoted the police as saying that the scheme is believed to have deprived students and their families of around US$1.2 million.
Police are now working on several leads, and has considered Guyana as one of the possible places to which the couple might have fled.
It is widely believed that Indian students are the largest bloc of students being defrauded by bogus universities, and other study-abroad scams, with more than 14,000 of them suffering the same fate last year alone.
Nigeria follows with a distant second space, with an average of just over 200 Nigerian students getting themselves entrapped in study-abroad scams in 2017, a figure that Indian students are outrunning within a week at any given time.
However, many countries from which foreign students are being recruited are now vetting and publishing their own list of offshore Universities in different parts of the world, at which their citizens can consider for admission.