Why is it So Difficult to Spot Fraudulent Applicants?

When detecting dishonest individuals, several factors complicating these efforts come into play. First and foremost, there is the issue of diploma mills – unaccredited universities and colleges that sell unrecognized and effectively worthless degrees. Not only do these mills produce bogus credentials, but with time they have also adapted to heightened awareness of their activities by creating their own accrediting bodies as a veneer of legitimacy and by taking advantage of lax law enforcement in their home countries to try and circumvent screening programmes.

With foreign workers, this challenge is further magnified by language barriers, unfamiliar regulatory regimes, global boundaries and the sheer scale of the work required to ensure professional integrity when dealing with high volumes of applicants. Traditionally, governments and regulators have relied on a system of notarization and Apostilles – a seal applied to a certified document to signify its legal authenticity for international use – to ensure documents presented by migrant workers are genuine. This approach is flawed in the sense that a notarization only attests that a copy of a document such as a diploma is a true likeness of the original. It does not guarantee, for example, that the diploma itself is real, the person whose name is on the diploma attended the school or that the institution granting the diploma is recognised by a competent authority.

On the other hand, notarization can also be faked. Many counterfeit documents the DataFlow Group has uncovered are imprinted with official-looking stamps, attestations and endorsements. The Hague Conference on Private International Law – an international organization facilitating agreements on legal matters – expressed serious concerns about the potential abuse of notarisation, stating: “An official looking certificate may be issued to a copy of a diploma mill qualification, and then subsequently issued with an Apostille, without anyone having ever verified the signature on, let alone the contents of, the diploma. The addition of seals, certificates and Apostilles lends credibility to these documents in the eyes of those who are unaware of what is actually being certified.”

The existence of diploma mills, notarization and Apostilles, paired with the rising number of individuals resorting to embellishing or forging their credentials to secure better salaries, positions and jobs whether in their home countries or abroad, is creating a volatile environment for organizations, employers, genuine employees and global communities alike, which now run the risk of falling prey to the consequences of document forgery. Visit our blogpost The Definitive Guide to Primary Source Verification to learn more about how this advanced screening procedure can significantly mitigate, if not eliminate, this growing phenomenon of credential fraud.


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