Resume fraud is a widespread problem for employers in every industry, and at any size company. It’s persistent and sometimes even careful examination of a resume won’t immediately reveal red flags or problems. The only way to properly vet job candidates is to screen them with a thorough pre-employment background checking process.
What are the most common fabrications found on resumes? A paper by Christopher T. Marquet, CEO, Marquet International Ltd. and Lisa J.B. Peterson, “Resume Fraud: The Top 10 Lies,” identifies the biggest trouble areas. In their paper, Marquet and Peterson relate an amazing story. If you thought resume fraud and employee deception doesn’t happen on a superior court level, you will be surprised:
Patrick Couwenberg appeared to be the obvious choice for a judicial appointment to the Los Angeles Superior Court in 1997. According to his resume, Mr. Couwenberg led an impressive life marked by advanced education, undercover government operations, and combat heroism. He regularly described his experiences in the Vietnam War, during which he said he was awarded a Purple Heart. He claimed that he had attended the prestigious California Institute of Technology on the G.I. Bill, as well as the Loyola Law School and California State University, Los Angeles, where he was awarded a Master’s Degree in Psychology. Mr. Couwenberg also claimed that he had been recruited from the Navy to the Army, where he attained the rank of corporal and that he was also recruited by the CIA for covert operations in Southeast Asia between 1968 and 1969 and in Africa in 1984. He also claimed experience in private legal practice, which rounded out this apparently remarkable career.
The only problem with Mr. Couwenberg’s representations was that they were nearly all lies.
As it turns out:
It was determined that while he did serve in the Navy Reserves, he never served in the Army, in any capacity, nor was he engaged in combat in the Vietnam War and was never awarded a Purple Heart. It was California Polytechnic State University where he was awarded his undergraduate degree rather than the prestigious CalTech (and not on the G.I. Bill). He attended La Verne and Western Law Schools (neither of which were accredited), not Loyola Law School. He never attended Cal State, Los Angeles, and does not, in fact, hold a Master’s Degree from any school. The dates he claimed to have studied at Cal State were fabricated to hide the fact that he did not pass the bar exam until his fifth try. CIA officials denied Couwenberg was ever employed by the Agency and the law practice for which Mr. Couwenberg claims to have worked in 1976 does not have a record of him.
This isn’t an isolated scenario. As the paper points out, the following are all common areas of resume fraud:
- Stretching Dates of Employment
- Inflating Past Accomplishments & Skills
- Enhancing Job Titles & Responsibilities
- Education Exaggeration & Fabricating Degrees
- Unexplained Gaps & Periods of “Self Employment”
- Omitting Past Employment
- Faking Credentials
- Fabricating Reasons for Leaving Previous Job
- Providing Fraudulent References
- Misrepresenting Military Record
A potential employee who engages in one or more of the above deceptions could mean serious trouble for your company, should you make the mistake of hiring him/her without a thorough background check. A dishonest employee could be unqualified for the position, possibly endangering others on the job. Or they might be a fraud risk, willing to bend the truth in other ways in order to enrich or advance themselves on your dime.
At CRI Group, our EmploySmart pre-employment background screening process analyzes a job candidate’s claims and credentials, and digs beyond the surface to make sure the facts match up. Our experts conduct extensive checks that examine all of the following details of a potential employee:
- Verification of address
- Verify name and date-of-birth
- National ID number
- Credit checks
- Previous employment verification
- Credentials verification
- Bankruptcy checks
- Civil litigation checks
- Criminal history
- Record checks
- Professional qualifications and memberships
- Criminal background checks
- … and more.
In business, what you don’t know can hurt you, and no organization can afford to have employees on staff who aren’t what they claim to be. Even a seemingly innocent embellishment can indicate more background problems under the surface, and the potential for future problems down the road.
Every business leader should embrace the need to EmploySmart. Your greatest resource is your employees. Make sure they are who they say they are, and that you only hire the best.