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Educational Fraud in the Workplace

Educational fraud is one of the most common lies told on a resume’. In today’s technology-based world, and the desire to make the almighty dollar as fast and easy as possible, this type of fraud continues to plague employers who want to hire the best and the brightest.

How easy is it to buy a fraudulent degree or diploma? The short answer is, very easy. Diploma mills are prevalent on the internet and it is very simple to pick and choose any diploma of your choice. George Gollin of the Council for Higher Accreditation told CNN in 2010 that nearly 100,000 fraudulent diplomas and degrees are sold annually.

Common Reasons for Education Fraud

Cost. Cost is probably the #1 reason educational fraud exists. Average yearly costs in 2015-2016 for an in-state public university were $24,061 and $47,831 at a private university, as reported by College Board on CollegeData.com. Multiply that by four, six or eight years, and it’s easy to see how quickly the price tag escalates into the six-digit area for an advanced degree.

Competition. Decades ago it only took a high school degree to make a solid living. With each new generation, the base educational requirements continue to be raised to the next level. Bachelor degrees are no longer the golden ticket to a high paying position, leaving workers scrambling to get a higher degree.

Inequality in Family Income. College Board reported in 2015 that even though family incomes continually increased from 1984 to 2014, the lowest income tier had a decline in income by 1% while those in the highest income bracket increased by 51%. Those with middle incomes averaged a 20% increase. This type of inequality makes it even more difficult for those in lower income brackets to afford college. Furthermore, Bloomberg’s report that college tuition has risen by 500% since 1985, makes the idea of educational fraud  increasingly appealing. 

Debt. Mark Kranrowitz of Edvisors.com estimated that the average student loan debt for 2015 college graduates is $35,051 as reported in an article by Market Watch. Student debt is the most stringently regulated debt and failure to pay can ruin credit scores and in turn the ability to buy a house or even get a job in some cases.

Ramifications of Educational Fraud to Employers

Employers that deal in the financial sector need to be especially diligent when it comes to verifying education for job candidates. If an employee makes a negligent financial decision that causes stockholders to lose money, stocks will drop significantly. This can cost a company thousands or even millions of dollars.

Additionally, an employee who fakes their credentials will most likely be unable to efficiently handle their job responsibilities. This can be costly to a company that needs someone to step in and be effective immediately. Add in the costs of replacing that employee, and the price to the company can be significant.

Famous Cases of Educational Fraud

Even large corporations are not immune to educational fraud. One well-known case is Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson. Thompson became the CEO of Yahoo in January of 2012. Shortly after accepting the position, it was reported that Thompson lied about having a computer science degree from Stonehill College. Within days of verifying the lie, Yahoo announced the resignation of Thompson.

Former RadioShack CEO, David Edmonson claimed a bachelor degree in theology and psychology from Pacific Coast Baptist College.  Edmonson resigned in 2006 after it was found to be falsified information.

The list goes on with some cases more minor than others. But in each case, employers failed to verify educational qualifications.

Avoiding Educational Fraud

Thorough pre-employment screening is the most effective way to avoid educational fraud. Business owners should incorporate educational verification into their background check process to ensure they are hiring the right person.

Employers should not accept a paper copy of a diploma, degree or certificate from a job candidate as proof of education. Sites like PhonyDiploma.com allow anyone to print out such documents from just $75. The company will even provide fake transcripts for an additional fee.

A professional background check company will verify the credentials before the wrong hire is made. The background check company will take the responsibility of contacting the educational institutions to corroborate educational histories.

SB Checks can help stop companies from being affected by educational fraud. Call (888) 725-2535 today for our complete screening options.