Back in March we reported on Risk Advisory Group’s analysis of over 5,500 CVs revealing an astonishing level of discrepancies about education qualifications. In June we released a free toolkit for employers to help prevent and detect application fraud which is available to download here (shameless plug).
The messages are not filtering through yet as AXELOS Global have released a study of 500 HR professionals which showed that the majority of employers are still not making checks. So we’re going to spell it out.
40% of companies had spent more than £10,000 in the last three years rehiring staff after employing someone who wasn’t properly qualified.
We’ll just let that sink in……….. £10,000.
Data gathered by the UK’s Office for National Statistics reveal that, in the last three years, of 138,000 HR managers and directors in the UK 14% have dealt with at least five instances of employees not holding the certifications they claimed – the equivalent of about 100,000 job applicants. That number could be even higher if more employers made checks. In AXELOS’s study, nearly 50% didn’t. A third of employers didn’t make checks at all if the applicants had previous experience.
You can find details on how to check all UK graduates on the free university look-up service on HEDD. Don’t take the risk.
News of our work in dealing with bogus providers is spreading far and wide. We received a report from Iran that a UK university was selling fake diplomas for £200 via an office in Iran. At the same time Robert Gordon University reported a copycat website masquerading as them when the certificate above came through HEDD for verification. We joined up the dots.
Under our naming and shaming promise I give you International University Robert Gordon and the certificate for one of their latest ‘graduates’.
On the certificate is the name and student ID number – we have blanked it out. If you visit the website and key in the ID number you get an instant verification of the candidate’s credentials.
Unfortunately for the applicant the employer contacted the real Robert Gordon University to verify it and the deceit was uncovered. Had they gone to the webpage above they could easily have been fooled into employing a fraudster.
Like many bogus websites the copycat uses a lot of information stolen from the real Robert Gordon University website and other pages from a genuine UK university in Yorkshire.
HEDD has acted swiftly, adding International University Robert Gordon to the bogus providers on the university look up service on HEDD and reported the site to Trading Standards, the National Crime Agency and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The website http://www.inturg.com has been suspended and the owners are being investigated.
As the Twitterverse wondered mischievously last week whether Andrea Leadsom would be adding Prime Minister and winning Euro 2016 goalscorer to her stated career achievements, she must be rueing the day the Times took a close look at the City credentials in her CV. The media were vicious in their taunting and once outed, this will haunt her forever.
Whether it’s inflating your grades, your salary, job title or level of responsibility it’s not worth the risk in the long run. Robust credential checking will uncover the truth and could cost you your job as well as your reputation.
Employment screening professionals, the Risk Advisory Group published their annual report into CV fraud last week. It’s a sobering read and demonstrates that there is a long way to go to eliminate this, despite the work we have been doing at HEDD for the past 4 years. The report is available to download from their website.
After analysing 5,500 CVs submitted by jobseekers, 70% were found to contain some form of inaccuracy – a rise of 7% on last year.
2/3 of the discrepancies were about academic background – by far the most common lies. 10% of candidates falsify their grades.
The report includes case studies showing candidates who had been expelled from their university, but claimed the degree anyway and MBAs from bogus universities. All too familiar.
To put it in real terms – if you receive 200 CV applications for a job 88 of them will have lies about education qualifications. 20 of them will have false grades.
The need to make checks has never been greater. 3 simple steps in your recruitment practices can make all the difference:
- Tell candidates you will check all qualifications.
- Ask to see certificates – don’t rely on CVs or application forms.
- Check the certificates with the awarding institutions – beware fakes.
Risk Advisory report that the message is getting through with more employers introducing verification measures when hiring. The more we can highlight the levels of fraud, the higher that number will be.
Coventry became the 21st university to go live on HEDD last week following Aston the week before. There is further evidence that HEDD is now well-established in the sector with the first fake HEDD certificate appearing. It’s an interesting twist. Rather than create a certificate with its complicated watermarks and holograms, just produce a verification check. What could go wrong?
First of all, HEDD is a secure, online-only system – we don’t issue certificates. As soon as something is committed to paper it can be tampered with.
It also appears to verify a candidate from a university that doesn’t use HEDD for its verifications yet.
It refers to the HEDD website at www.HEDD.ac – our old friend the Ascension Islands domain, designed to mimic our .ac.uk academic sites and conveniently ‘undergoing maintenance’ if you try to go there.
There’s not even the most rudimentary effort to reproduce the HEDD logo.
More worrying is that the HEDD ‘certificate’ has been certified as genuine by a real Notary Public in London at a cost of around £80.
We see a lot of scanned certificates countersigned by notaries attesting to having checked the original, but how can we be sure that they do it with any degree of rigour? A Google search would have taken them to the real HEDD website and exposed the truth in seconds.
Our HEDDhelp team spoke to the Notary who hung up very quickly when we challenged him about signing a fraudulent certificate.
We’ll be checking up on the owner of the Ascension Islands HEDD domain and reporting the Notary to his professional body.
After reporting in November that most employers are still not checking qualifications despite high profile cases and our efforts to highlight the risks, it was good to see another fraudster put behind bars recently. Karen Carberry, Finance Director for Reed – the recruitment specialists follows Wade Jordan to prison.
Reed paid the high cost of not checking her certificates when she joined them in 2001 and she rose up the ranks to Finance Director – syphoning off over £300,000 along the way. Ouch.
Carberry denied but was convicted of obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception between July 1, 2001 and July 31, 2001, fraud by abuse of position between 6 August 2009 and 9 July 2012 and two counts of using a false instrument between 13 August and 29 August 2012. The judge sentenced her to 4 years – but it could easily have been 6 if she had not had young children.
That’s a lot of money to lose but how much greater was the reputational and brand damage to Reed? A lot of chatter and comments following the news coverage centred around Reed’s failure to vet their own staff and raised questions about the standards of vetting of candidates they place with clients. Their competitors were very quick to jump on this although, hand on heart, I’d be surprised if they could confidently say they checked every single employee.
The BBC reported on new technology last week to offer secure digital badges for documents and certificates to verify their authenticity with the issuer. We are already looking into offering access to secure documents through HEDD. Meanwhile we are delighted to welcome Coventry and Aston to the growing number of universities in the HEDD service. With more universities due to join later this month this means nearly a quarter of UK graduates can be checked through HEDD. The BBC article talked of the burden of manual work to make checks and we know this is cited by many as a reason to trust CVs and certificates. We’re doing our bit to make it easier. Time for employers to step up.
My apologies for the online absence. I have brought a note. Anyway – how’ve you been?
It’s been a tremendously busy summer and autumn on HEDD. We have welcomed Surrey and Nottingham Trent Universities into the HEDD family and we’re processing record numbers of checks every week. I’d like to think that our campaigning efforts to encourage checks are having an effect, but sadly our latest research tells a different tale.
A third of employers are still taking CVs at face value and don’t request degree certificates from job applicants.
Of those who request certificates, 76% assume they are legitimate and don’t verify them with the issuing university and 32% accept copies rather than original documents.
Many businesses, particularly when recruiting graduates, invest significantly in sophisticated application tracking, assessment centres, psychometric testing and so on, but it seems only a few verify qualifications as part of that process.
Many of us want to believe that people are telling the truth, so we place our trust in references, applications and interviews. With a low perception of the frequency and risks of qualification fraud it’s easy to become complacent.
This is totally at odds with the views of students and graduates when we asked them. Three quarters said they expect employers to check their qualifications and 82% would like to see verification compulsory. (So would we, if I’m honest).
Graduates are used to rigorous checks by UCAS pre-university and to having their academic work verified by plagiarism detection software to prevent cheating, What a shame the same rigour isn’t in place for job applications and employment.