We’ve written in the past about degree/diploma mills, which are fake colleges/universities that sell education credentials to help job applicants pad their resumes.
Fortunately, the private sector has collaborated with the U.S. Dept of Education in developing resources to reveal institutions that are not accredited, weeding out counterfeit degrees.
But now there is a new, more sinister industry perpetrating fraud on companies.
Today, a handful of organizations are selling counterfeit employment histories. These shady outfits exist to create the false perception that applicants possess required experience for a job and/or to help applicants fill unemployment gaps, and they use advanced methodology and sophisticated processes to deceive hiring managers.
There has been surprisingly little media attention in the USA about this problem, but a recent article in the India Times describes this deceptive enterprise. The article explains that the majority of resume fraud is found among biotech professionals and hospitality, but this info graphic from AuthBridge shows how prolific the practice is.
There are many organizations out there that provide a fake employment history but the leader in this space is called The Reference Store.
The home page on their website opens with this sales pitch:
“Unemployed? Fired? Forced Out? Bad Reference? Create an entirely new work history using our fake reference service. Dont let these issues keep you from finding meaningful work. Explain away these periods using one of our Virtual Companies. Our fake companies are so real, our Virtual Companies actually get sales calls from the public.”
They go on to explain the elaborate web they will spin to create a fake work history. This is problematic because the steps they describe are so extensive that their fake work history can actually fool most standard employment verification questionnaires.
Employment verifications are designed to officially determine if the person actually worked for a company, and held the position they claim, including dates of employment, salary history and in some cases, eligibility for re-hire.
But if services like the Reference Store create a dedicated fake HR Manager, fake colleagues, a fake company website, fake LinkedIn profile and fake phone numbers, this can make a standard employment verification extremely vulnerable to fraud.
Why would someone try to game the system with a fake work history?
Perhaps they were fired for poor performance, anger issues, theft or some other violation and so they cannot list a real job they held, where they acquired the necessary skills. There are any number of reasons why an unethical person would pay for a fake work history, but whatever the reason, their willingness to do so reflects a level of dishonesty that could harm your company in other ways.
For example, once they have been hired, what else will they lie about to earn more money and be awarded higher levels of responsibility? You can envision any number of situations where this crafty person will work to elevate themselves at the expense of others.
So how can you protect your company from being duped by employment verification fraud?
Fortunately, there are data sources readily available to many background screening companies, which can reveal if the company is legitimate before a phone call is made to verify the person’s employment.
- Current and Previous Employees, Officers, and Directors
- Business Licenses & UCC Filings
- Current and Historical Phones, Addresses, and DBAs
- Branches, Subsidiaries, Parent Companies, and Headquarters
These data sources can determine when the company was started, how long they have been in business, what services they provide, who has worked there and where they operate. Because these information sources are protected from fraud, adding this step to a standard employment verification provides a level of due diligence to discover a false reference or a fake employer.
The Reference Store isn’t the only game in town. There are other outfits providing similar services, including:
With the proliferation of shady outfits creating fake work histories, taking the extra step to verify a company’s legitimacy can help protect your company from hiring a dishonest person who may increase your company’s legal exposure and place your employees, customers, vendors and key stakeholders at risk for serious harm.