NEW YORK - US prosecutors have charged a Pakistani executive for his part in an alleged $140 million "fake-diploma mill" fraud, the latest step in a global crackdown touched off by arrests in Pakistan last year.

Umair Hamid, 30, an executive at software firm Axact, was charged on December 21 with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft in connection with a scam that impacted tens of thousands of consumers.

Hamid of Karachi was arrested on December 19, 2016, and was presented yesterday in Federal court in Fort Mitchell, Kentucky, Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said.

Pakistan had asked US authorities last year to help it investigate Axact, which had been suspected of earning millions of dollars from the sale of bogus university degrees online.

Even after Pakistani authorities shut Axact down in May 2015, Hamid continued to sell fake diplomas, duping US consumers into paying up-front fees to enroll in fake high schools and colleges, Bharara said.

"Hamid allegedly took hefty up-front fees from young men and women seeking an education, leaving them with little more than useless pieces of paper," Bharara said.

“Hamid took advantage of the aspirations and dreams of thousands wanting a college education by devising a scheme to issue college coursework, degrees and certifications not worth the paper they were printed on. Postal Inspectors and their law-enforcement partners will spare no resource to bring these scammers to justice, protecting those striving for higher education and opportunities.”

FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge William F. Sweeney Jr. said: “Thousands of people’s hopes were crushed as this alleged diploma mill scheme came crashing down.  Victims took at face value the lies Hamid and his co-conspirators are alleged to have sold them. Today, we’re rewriting the lesson plan.”