A report from Tom Williams on our degree fraud team.
We often hear that people have ‘embellished’ their CV or LIED, as we prefer to call it, in order to get a job. The general feeling seems to be that this is normal and if people do a good job there’s no harm done.
That’s a very dangerous assumption indeed.
Yes, a fake fact on a CV might be their only crime and their contribution to your workforce may be exemplary. But it’s a risky business to put your faith and your company’s reputation and finances in the hands of a stranger without a verification check.
Alaska Freeman has an impressive CV which included her accountancy qualifications. Two successive employers failed to check on her claims and as a result she was able to steal around £115,000 from them.
Joining the first company in October 2012 as Assistant Management Accountant and later promoted to the senior position of Management Accountant, Freeman inflated her own pay, made personal purchases on company credit cards, transferred funds into her own bank accounts and stole petty cash.
After being exposed by HMRC in 2015 and sacked after an internal investigation, she was arrested.
Whilst on bail, she applied for a financial controller’s job with a new employer, was hired and immediately set about stealing from them too!
Thankfully Freeman has just been sentenced to 53 months in prison after pleading guilty to 10 counts of fraud. Let’s hope they follow up under the Proceeds of Crime Act to get that money back.
The financial impact of these crimes was severe and it took three years of hard work by dedicated employees for the first business to recover. Her crimes could so easily have cost jobs.
Both companies could have avoided this by making a proper background check for qualifications, references and even criminal records as a standard part of their recruitment process. The consequences of inadequate checks can be serious, long-term and irreversible.
Making checks is easy. You can download our free toolkit for employers at www.hedd.ac.uk