What to Know
- CUNY Medgar Evers biology professor Mamdouh Abdel-Sayed is accused of holding unauthorized classes and selling fake completion certificates
- The 68-year-old professor bought and embossed his own stationery to print the bogus certificates, sold for $25 to $1,000, feds say
- He kept up the alleged scam from 2013 through 2017, even after he was warned repeatedly to stop, prosecutors say
A CUNY professor has been arrested, accused of selling fake course completion certificates.
Mamadouh Abdel-Sayed, a 68-year-old full-time biology professor at CUNY Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, allegedly held unauthorized medical and health-related courses in empty classrooms on campus and sold fake course completion certificates, federal prosecutors allege.
The certificates were given to those who purchased them -- even if the students never attended class, prosecutors say. He charged between $25 and $1,000 for the fake certificates, which were created on stationery the professor bought and embossed himself.
He would then help those who paid for the certificates to get jobs in health care by vouching for the certificates' authenticity, according to prosecutors. Very little to no training ever took place, textbooks weren't used and students weren't graded.
"He traded on the reputation of Medgar Evers College and pocketed all the fees students paid while undercutting legitimate schooling being performed by colleagues across the campus," said Inspector General Leahy Scott.
The fake classes included phlebotomy (the practice of drawing blood from patients for the purposes of medical or clinical testing), electrocardiograms (EKGs), CPR, sonography and patient care technician, according to authorities. Abdel-Sayed was never authorized to teach any of those classes as a paid professor, and none of the fields even require licensing in New York state.
The classes were held in direct competition with, and deeply discounted from, actual certified courses at the Medgar Evers College School of Professional and Community Development.
Authorities say Abdel-Sayed carried on with the scheme from at least 2013 through 2017, even after he was repeatedly warned by college officials to stop.
When Abdel-Sayed learned he was being investigated after his office was raided this past summer, Abdel-Sayed allegedly contacted a student who had purchased fake certificates from him. The professor asked the student -- who happened to be an undercover investigator -- to return the certificates, and to not talk to investigators. He told the student that, if questioned by law enforcement, the student should say they took only pathophysiology with Abdel-Sayed. Pathophysiology is a biology course the professor is authorized to teach.
Abdel-Sayed, who lives in Kearny, New Jersey, was arrested Friday on federal corruption and fraud charges. He was scheduled to appear in federal court in Manhattan later Friday.
A spokesman for CUNY said in a statement, "We have no tolerance for anyone attempting to take advantage of our students, and we appreciate the work of the Inspector General and the United States Attorney and thank them for their swift and thorough response."
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story had an incorrect location for Medgar Evers College. It has been updated.