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Fake references and fraud: why should we worry?

Why should we worry about fake references?

Skipping reference checks may come back to haunt you…

In an effort to make themselves look good to a prospective employer, sometimes applicants tell little white lies or put a more positive spin on their CVs. Perhaps exaggerating the importance of their role, over-egging their part in a project or adding skills and experience they do not have.

However, some have been known to go further than just misrepresenting their accomplishments. In cases of reference fraud, people have lied about places they have worked or attempted to cover up criminal records.  This is why references are so important in background checking. Who knows what type of person the candidate really is if you only take their word for it?  Just by checking with the previous employers you could possibly avoid causing repetitional or criminal risk to your company.

According to one 2017 research on employment screening, 85% of employers caught their applicants lying on their CVs and applications.

Some of the more common lies are:

  • dates of previous jobs,
  • false job titles,
  • bigger salaries,
  • fake degrees, fake jobs and not disclosing a criminal record.

The only way to be 100% certain that your candidate is being honest is by conducting a thorough background check on them. Make sure you also ask for references

There are many cases of qualification fraud and fake university degrees. University World News often report new cases: the most recent on fake Scottish degrees.

The UK’s official service for verifying degrees, the Higher Education Degree Datacheck (HEDD)urges new graduates who take selfies with their new degrees not to share the images on social media to avoid fuelling the multimillion-pound trade in fake degrees. This way criminals can very easily get a copy of someones’ true degree information and use it in fraud.

All over Europe, significant efforts are made to detect fraudulent documents. Recently, an Erasmus+ funded project, FRAUDOC, led by the Italian ENIC-NARIC CIMEA, launched guidelines on diploma mills and documents fraud for credential evaluators. Additionally, the European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education (ENQA) and the European Quality Assurance Register for Higher Education (EQAR) have been established.

A case of serious work experience fraud

An applicant for a pilot position was successful in the recruitment process and started working in the airline, even though  he had lied on his application form about his previous work experience (you can read the full “N Francis-McGann vs. West Atlantic UK Ltd” case from the Employment Tribunal)

How did he do that? By providing a fake reference.

He claimed to have previously worked as a Captain when his previous positions had all been as a First Officer. To hide this, he had provided a fake reference from a false email address. It purported to be from Desilijic Tiure which, it turns out, is actually the alternative name of Jabba the Hut, a character from Star Wars.  A reference from a Star Wars character has got to be a first!

Making sure all employees and candidates have the required skills to perform their job is extremely important. This is why professional references are one of the most important elements to check when hiring a new employee.

Digital certificates and secure reference checking –  the future

The question is: how can we do better reference checking?

  1. Digital certificates: diplomas will be digitally accessible in secure systems which will guarantee documents’ authenticity. Some countries, such as Norway are already doing this.
  2. With SureCert, you can undertake digital reference checking already, no matter which country you live in. In the not too distant future, all referencing will be done digitally. It is faster, easier, saves time and effort, and reduces environmental impact.

Get in touch or register if you want to get started with SureCert.