An investigation by the Times has revealed that some Ukrainian businessmen are capitalizing upon Oxford’s academic reputation to sell millions of pounds worth of fake awards and honours.
The Europe Business Assembly (EBA) is selling awards supposedly from Oxford University, such as the “Queen Victoria Commemorative Award”, for up to £9,300, targeting individuals in countries it considers to be more receptive to paying for awards and the reputation and other benefits which come with it. The organisation has no affiliation with Oxford University.
A former employee told the Times: “We were selling the idea that [recipients] were becoming part of the great Oxford institution. We didn’t provide a network. We didn’t provide opportunities to broaden their academic horizons.”
The company emails and calls their targets with claims that they have been nominated for an award, and anyone who expresses interest is asked to pay an administrative and license fee to allow them to use their brand for public relations and marketing purposes for five years.
The EBA has paid people including a former trade minister to speak at its events. It also uses photographs of Oxford colleges in its marketing materials, copies the university’s typeface in its logo and has lavish ceremonies in rented venues in Oxford.
A spokesman for the university said: “We can confirm that the Europe Business Assembly is not affiliated or otherwise linked to the University of Oxford. We have no further comment on this company.”