The Southern African Fraud Prevention Service and iFacts background screening company have both warned prospective job seekers planning to lie about their qualifications that they are committing a serious act of fraud and that they could be facing jail should employers choose to prosecute.
Carol Mcloughlin of the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service warned job seekers that CV fraud was a criminal offence and that perpetrators could end up with criminal records. She said that last year alone 1751 cases of employee fraud had been listed on the organisation's Shamwari fraud database. This database is available to members of the SAFPS to check whether the person they are dealing with has been listed for fraudulent activity.
Jenny Reid, CEO of iFacts background screening company said that there was a flood of forged and fraudulent qualifications doing the rounds in South Africa and that many senior officials in both government and the private sector have been guilty of fudging those qualifications.
"Most perpetrators laugh it off when they're caught claiming it was an 'oversight' or a 'mistake' when the hard reality is that they have committed an act of fraud for which they could spend time in jail or, at the least, end up with a criminal record."
Recent examples include the SABC where the National Prosecuting Authority has raised questions about the validity of the Matric certificate of newly appointed COO, Hlaudi Motsoeneng.
Danie Strydom, CEO of qualifications verification company QVS, said that job seekers should not view lying on their CV as harmless as employers were fully within their rights if it they chose to prosecute employees for fraud.
A serious offence
"Fraud is a serious offence and, if found guilty, an accused could at the very least end up with a criminal record that could haunt him for the rest of his life."
Strydom concurred with Reid that there were many fraudulent qualifications doing the rounds in South Africa.
"Our biggest problem is the fact that some candidates fudge their own qualifications by adding subjects they had not studied or increasing their symbols. The other problem concerns forged degrees and diplomas that are available on the internet. These forged qualifications are often printed on high-quality paper and, lately, even include holograms and seals of the universities that they claim to come from."
Strydom said that about 13% of all qualifications verified by QVS turned out to be "problematic".
"One of the major problems we face in South Africa is massive unemployment and job seekers will go to any lengths to try to secure a position, even if it means that they have to lie on their CVs or falsify their qualifications. It is imperative that employers verify all qualifications that are tendered by prospective employees and check every aspect of their CVs."
Strydom warned that fraudsters were always on the lookout for ways and means to infiltrate organisations to benefit illegally from an appointment.
He said that some employees were simply naïve and did not realise that a "padded" CV could get them into a lot of trouble.
"We understand that it is a tough job market and that even the most honest graduate may feel a lot of pressure to make his CV stand out from the crowd, but it's better to be straightforward and keep your integrity," Strydom said.