September 2, 1998


Resume fraud has become rampant in the workplace and the  Internet is at least partly to blame, according to corporate investigation firm Michael G. Kessler & Associates, Ltd.

Kessler just completed a six-month investigation of resume and credentials fraud and has released a report with findings it describes as “amazing.”

“Not only did we find resume fraud so frequent an occurrence that it was almost at epidemic proportions, but we found some startling information along the way,” said the firm in its announcement. “College degrees were only an e-mail away. Sources were abundant on the Internet.”

The firm’s investigators sent inquiries about buying a degree and says it got “bombarded” by responses. Prices for fake degrees ranged from $9,000 down to $19.95 and the received offers included some for software that could print impressive degrees using a home computer.

Said Michael G. Kessler, president and chief executive officer (CEO), “We even located sources selling transcript templates and paper which would allow the purchaser to fill in the blanks to create their own official college transcripts, complete with straight A’s if they desired.”

Applicants who used fake degrees to get jobs often don’t stop at the forged certificate, says Kessler. They may also list certifications from organizations which either never tested them or were simply a money-making scheme for their originators — if they existed at all.

Some contacted organizations offered a gold seal embossed certificate, suitable for framing, in return for buying a book on a specific subject. The certificates named the buyer as an expert in the fields, which included such law-enforcement and investigation related specialties as forensic dentistry, environmental investigator, financial investigator, forensic psychology and forensic accounting, says the firm. Getting certified just took filling out a check.

Kessler’s team found highly placed people who used bogus credentials, impressive publication listings, and phony degrees on their resumes. In some cases these were not in addition to legitimate  qualifications, they were their only qualification, said the investigators.

Kessler, which Newsbytes notes specializes in employee investigations, urges employers to consider extensive background checks on prospective employees a necessity, if only to protect  their organizations from potential lawsuits.

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