A Malaysian student who allegedly entered a NASA challenge and won a scholarship from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration from the United States today claimed he could have been the victim of a scam.
The story unfolded several days ago when Muhammad Azhar Ali shared several screenshots exclaiming in disbelief that he scored in the top 1 percent of over 3 million participants of a “2020 NASA Artemis Challenge”.
Based on his score of “96.77 percent”, he received an e-mail from one Rene A Holland of NASA, offering him a scholarship in affiliation with the National University of Singapore (NUS).
Azhar received many praises and congratulatory messages, including from Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as well as Science, Technology and Innovation minister Khairy Jamaluddin.
A segment of Malaysian Twitter users, however, took a more cautious approach and began to look into the alleged scholarship offer.
The unclear nature of the challenge he participated in, coupled with the grammatical mistakes and typographical error in his “Nasa certificate” which also named him as Nasa’s “citizen scientist” raised eyebrows.
After backlash, Azhar took to making his Twitter account private.
This morning, the account was made public again, and he posted a thread, explaining what happened.
While he did not provide any screenshots detailing the scam, he summarised that the whole episode could have been a scam.
He said he has written to Nasa and the NUS to obtain clarification, however, he did not inform if they responded to his queries.
“What we, myself included, can learn from this is that we should always check for authenticity before engaging or posing any form of news to the public. I’m not going to apologise upon being a Victim of a Scam (sic),” Azhar posted.
The NST has reached out to NASA’s Armstrong Flight Centre in California where Holland’s name is listed under the Human Resources division but has yet to receive a reply. – NST