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September 7, 1998


Resume fraud isn't new, but it seems to be more widespread at least partly because of the Web. Information systems recruiters should look out for phony college degrees, transcripts and certifications that can be easily bought on the World Wide Web, according to Michael G. Kessler & Associates Ltd., a New York-based corporate investigation firm. The firm recently wrapped up a six-month study in which 25% of the 1,000 resumes the company examined were fraudulent in some way. In many cases, the false claims were supported by fake documentation obtained via the Web. The resumes were provided by Kessler & Associates' clients.  The findings didn't surprise Jim Howard, a human resources manager for the information technology group at NationsBank in Atlanta. "[Resume] fraud and counterfeiting are not new, but they have gotten more sophisticated, thanks to technology," Howard said. He added that the bank "validates all claims" made on applicants' resumes to protect itself.

As part of the Kessler study, the firm inquired about buying a college degree on the Web and was flooded with responses and offers for software that outputs impressive-looking degrees. Certifications also may be at issue because Kessler found several Web sites that were willing to mail out gold-embossed certificates -- in areas that included forensic dentistry, psychology and even fraud investigation -- for a fee.

"It's clear to us that for as little as $150 you can become certified in just about anything on the Web," Kessler said.

Author - Barb Cole-Gomolski

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