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Sean Davern

Quartz Services UK

Managing Director

Read more about Sean Davern

Blog: Fraud – Who do you think they are?


Do you know how easy it is to lie about your experience or qualifications on a CV and get away with it?

Actually it is extremely easy, simply because the people doing the interviewing are not doing their job properly.

And this backed up by the latest US TV hit from Dave, Suits, where a smooth-talking man with a photographic memory talks his way into a job at a US law firm…with no qualifications or experience.

If you’re hiring someone for a position of responsibility, nothing replaces the need for full background checks and a properly thought through interview. You need to find out and assess as much as you can about the people you considering letting into your organisation. This applies whether they are employees or sub contractors.

Before the interview
Before even deciding if you want to interview, check out your candidate on Facebook, Google and Linked In.  Ask yourself based on what you see – "Am I happy to interview this person? Does the CV you were sent and the accompanying letter or email match up with what you and everyone else can see on the internet?  
Think it through and prepare specific questions that you want to build into the interview. Too many interviewers simply do not prepare properly.
If say, you are interviewing a candidate for an accounting job – one question could be "tell me what you would do with an £8 difference on a bank rec?" Someone familiar with accounting would be able to tell you.  If they have never worked in accounts it will be apparent. 
Different questions should have different objectives, whether they are to assess honesty or knowledge of the subject matter. It is better to have 10 properly throughout out questions rather than a long rambling "see how we go interview". 
Take care however to ensure that the candidate does most of the talking – the interviewer really needs to listen and take in what is being said.
The interviewer should also be aware of body language. Whilst not conclusive, body language can indicate when someone is not being entirely honest. It is the interviewer role to do discover this but so many interviewers are simply not trained to do this.     
It is also important for the interviewer to put the candidate at ease so that they give information freely. It is an interview – not an interrogation.  
Employment history
Double check that past employers as stated on the CV actually exist. It is easy to check that out won the internet and by a quick verification phone call.  
At the interview itself
An interview is not a race against the clock. You cannot do a meaningful interview in 20 minutes in the candidate’s lunch break or before your next meeting in 30 minutes.
You do however only have limited time to find out as much as you can – and you will discover more about a candidate in the last 30 minutes of a 90 minute interview than you will in the first 30 minutes.  So don’t be afraid to tell the candidate to allow 90 minutes or so for the interview. You can always finish it early if you need to.  
Verify identity
Ask for a current passport and Driver’s Licence (both parts) and examine them. Too many interviewers just go through the copying process without checking the details. Do the documents actually make sense? Do the photos match the person in front of you? Is the same photograph used in the passport as well as in driving licence?
This in itself is strange but then check whether both documents are "issued" on the same day. There may be nothing wrong with that but interviewers very often do not check these basic common sense things – they just go through the process of copying everything. 
Once the candidate’s documents have been copied ask the candidate to sign then date and time the copies.  Again the interviewer should check that signatures match the signatures on the documents themselves.  
The interviewer should then evidence that he or she is satisfied with the documents by stating "Originals seen – all OK" on the copies and signing, dating and timing. This process forces the interviewer to actually think about what is being checked.
Verify address
Ask for an original bank statement and utility bill. Ensure that the address on both documents matches up and they are consistent with the address on the CV and accompanying correspondence. Copies should be made of all documents and evidenced as above by the interviewer.     
Always ask to see original qualification certificates and educational certificates – copies should not be accepted. Contact the institution or body to double check qualifications, dates and grades. Take copies of the originals and again go through the signing and evidencing process.
After the interview
Contact previous employers to confirm applicant’s duties and length or time with them. Ask them directly – would you employ this person again – whatever their answer – ask why? Follow up written references with a quick call to ascertain if they are genuine. If someone has asked a mate to write something on their behalf, you might be able to spot the deception at this stage.
What to do if you find something that doesn’t add up?
  • It might be a genuine mistake so don’t rush in
  • If, after further investigation, you do find your candidate is fraudulent, withdraw any offer of employment
  • Contact the Police if necessary
  • If they came through a recruitment agency inform them too
For positions of responsibility, whether financial or reputational, and for those with access to financial or sensitive data, I  recommend full pre-employment screening which includes full background and criminal checks where appropriate such as roles dealing with children or vulnerable adults.

Sean Davern is managing director of fraud consultancy, Quartz Services UK.

We welcome any and all contributions from the community, so please feel free to share your views and opinions with us, your colleagues and peers via our blogs section.

One Response

  1. How well do you know your employees/colleagues?

    I could not agree more with Sean. I currently work for a global pre-employment screening company called Sterling Infosystems. We specialise in ensuring that candidates are who they say they are, have the experience they claim they have, have qualified for the qualifications they claim to have and much, much more. As you can imagine we come across a lot of false claims on CVs. Employing these individuals can put companies at risk, financially, reputationaly and legally. Many of the companies we work with not only wish to protect themselves from these risks but also want to bring rigour and efficiency to the process. CIFAS have produced a series of reports into the risks posed to businesses.

    Analysis of frauds recorded on the CIFAS Staff Fraud Database reveals an alarming increase in the level of fraud being committed by employees during 2011 (when compared with 2010), most notably:

    • A 14.5% overall increase in the number of insider frauds recorded in 2011 when compared with 2010.
    • A 41% spike in the number of dishonest actions by staff to gain a benefit by theft or deception (e.g. theft of cash from customer accounts).
    • A decrease in the number of unauthorised disclosure of data frauds, which demonstrates the increasing preventative measures taken by organisations against this threat.
    • Levels of fraudulent attempts to gain employment remain relatively stable.

    Read the rest of the article here –

    If you would like to discuss this in more detail please feel free to drop me an email to [email protected]

    Simon Jenner of Sterling Infosystems –

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Sean Davern

Managing Director

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