This Resume Fraud Led to Jail Time

If you’re ever in doubt about the benefits of background screening when hiring a candidate, you need only look at what can happen when you don’t. 

A former manager at a state government department is the latest in a line-up of executives to be found guilty of fraudulent behaviour in relation to their job applications. Sentenced to a non-parole period of 12 months in jail, the court heard that the high-paid officer fabricated her education, references and work background. 

It wasn’t until a month into her employment that these falsehoods came to light. By this time, she had already awarded her brother a government contract and possibly gained access to sensitive government material. 

As audacious as this situation sounds, it’s by no means an isolated case. Various other companies have faced similar situations for failing to conduct proper background screening on their potential candidates.  

 “Even Australia’s largest corporations are not immune from the challenges of staff recruitment”, says Equifax Partnerships Manager, Angus Nicholls.

“No matter the size of the company or the type of role, there will always be job-seekers who lie on their resumes. This is nothing new to recruiters and Human Resources staff. But as the competition for jobs intensifies, the lies people tell to get their foot in the door will continue to get bigger and better,” he says.

And the consequences are not pretty. With a bad hiring decision comes the possibility of brand damage, lost revenue, further corrupt conduct and time-consuming legal action.

Detect resume fraud with background screening

Reading through hundreds of job applications for any given role, then matching them to set criteria is a time-consuming process. For this reason, many HR teams are either skipping the background screening process or conducting checks irrelevant to their organisation. 

“With Equifax’s online fit2work background screening platform, these checks are swift and painless. From a single centralised dashboard, recruiters can order, track and manage their checks, whether online references or employment checks. All it takes is one to five working days for a detailed employment history check, for example.”

He explains that during an employment background check, the HR or payroll department of previous employers are contacted to confirm details like dates of employment, positions held, remuneration and reasons for leaving. Red flags like mismatched starting dates, work gaps or misrepresentations are substantiated to ensure a candidate can’t get away with falsifying their employment history or qualifications.

If recruiters or employers need to check a candidate’s identity, adding a document verification check to the screening process can confirm the validity of ID like passports and licences.

Fast, easy access to results and reporting ensures that HR teams can maintain audit trails of the checks carried out. This is particularly relevant for organisations who need to keep robust employee records for Fit and Proper Persons checks.

Integrate background checks into recruitment processes

When deciding what type of background screening is appropriate for your organisation, keep in mind that one-off verifications like employment references and police checks may not be adequate. The screening checks you run on your candidates should be tailored to your organisation and the relevance to the roles you’re looking to fill. 

“By understanding the risks in your organisation, you can pinpoint what types of background screening are appropriate for different roles. You may decide to look at the critical tasks and responsibilities of each role and work out what is reasonable in these circumstances,” says Nicholls.
“Protect your business by having policies in place that guide your team through the recruitment process and the entire employee lifecycle.” 

Automate reference checking to reduce the risk of bad hires

Just like fraudulent resumes, fake references pose a severe risk for businesses trying to hire the best candidate for the job. 

Cheating the system is that much easier with the proliferation of websites offering counterfeit job reference letters and people who will pose as a referee for a fee. Spotting a fake reference is not always straightforward. It’s especially difficult if recruiters are keen to make a quick hire and don’t have the time or resources to cross-check contact details.

“When you consider the sheer number of fake references out there, adding an automated reference checking system to your hiring process is a no-brainer” says Nicholls.

“Using fit2work’s online reference check system, it takes 20 to 30 seconds for an employer to request a reference. The referees are automatically contacted via email to provide their feedback to specific questions via a secure online portal. Within days, the employer receives a report outlining the strength and validity of the applicant’s references.”

Nicholls explains that “moving the reference check from a conversational-based approach to a written question and answer approach boosts the accuracy, consistency and reliability of data. When you dig down and ask people to provide precise and trackable examples of their employment history, this is when holes in their stories often appear”.

Uncover criminal history before it’s too late

From minor infractions to major crimes, background screening can also reveal criminal facts about a candidate’s past that are useful to know before hiring them. In 2016, a tertiary education institute was defrauded of more than $1.7 million by a Manager. Little did they know when they hired him that he had a criminal history of fraud. The ICAC investigation alleged that the scam could have been prevented had the agency adequately considered his criminal history when hiring him.

It’s examples like this which show the importance of embedding criminal history checks into your organisation’s culture and talent acquisition process.

Nicholls advises that “these checks need to be well-planned and accurately reflect your position on anti-discrimination and privacy obligations”. 

“If you don’t know what to do with the results of a police check, there’s little value in conducting it in the first place,” he says.

“Criminal records should always be assessed in the context of individual job requirements. So, you will need to have processes in place to help you decide what action to take based on possible screening outcomes.”

Nicholls also says to keep in mind that a police check is a ‘point in time’ check only, so records are checked up until the date of issue, not after. If an infringement occurs later, you may not know about it until too late so it might be beneficial to review employees on an ongoing basis.


Transform your background screening using fit2work’s secure online platform that helps streamline certain risk management processes into a single dashboard. Contact us for more information, or visit the fit2work website.