The Counterfeit Engineer
While doing a background check for one of our esteemed clients we came across a case which astounded us. The prospective employee had claimed eight years of experience in two major infrastructure companies. (One of them is currently involved in Metro rail projects in two metros.) On verifying the applicant’s employment antecedents we found all the documents furnished by him forged. From one of the companies he was infact sacked on grounds of unethical practices. The report from the other company was no better. The HR said that the service letter was a fake.
But the worse was yet to come. We reached the institution where he had presumably done his diploma in civil engineering. The report from the office of the Controller of Examination was baffling! There was never ever a student in their record by that name. The registered number belonged to someone else. The certificate was a fake!
No wonder flyovers and bridges scare us!
Case Studies : 2
Adventure Of The Charlatan Professional
In the course of checking into the employment history of a prospective employee of one of our esteemed clients we were in for a shocker.
The young engineer gave an excellent start to his career joining as a Civil Engineer in a very 'relia...ble' brand name in the country. He worked there only for a year and two months. That was what the HR reported. But he claimed to have worked there for more than four years. His annual ctc then was only a lac. Guess his claim.....Three lac per annum! Now what about the service certificate he had submitted to back his claim? Hold your breath..... the document turned out to be a fake!
His next stop was a well-known cement industry. His work experience claim was three years. But HR of the company did not find any such record in his personal file. One remark in his personal file was that he left the organization few months after joining without any information and his whereabouts could never be traced.
This time it was steel major which he claimed he was working for. True, he was working there but only for a year and few months. But his resume told a different story. According to his resume he worked there for more than two years. The twist happened in the story when he produced the experience certificate purportedly issued from the company to back his claim. The HR said the service certificate was not issued from their end. The document was a fake!
Equipped with a curriculum-vitae enmeshed with falsification of truth and forged documents the engineer marched into a multinational specializing in inspection services in verification, diagnosis, and certification. After all these blood bath we were sure of some more action. This time he was cleverer. He produced a salary slip which included site allowances and comps off payments of one year. Though he conveniently declared this his annual income, the HR differed. Site allowances and comp off payments were never a part of the annual ctc. He claimed he was a Senior Manager but he was only Senior Surveyor.
The big question is how well established companies were taken for a ride?
One thing which emerges loud and clear from the whole episode is that no one bothered to dig into his employment history.
Case 3 : 'The Fall of a Star Performer’
Young. Intelligent. Ambitious and impatient. He kick started his career joining a software start-up in Bangalore and worked there for a year. Then came MNCs calling. Overnight his earning doubled. He prospered rapidly. First came the flashy car and then a flat in a posh apartment. Then the inevitable marriage happened. It was happiness all around.
Then suddenly the happiness began to sour. Car loan, housing loan and credit card came knocking. Expectation of a big hike didn’t materialize as the company went for cost cutting in the wake of a worldwide meltdown.
The financial pressure was mounting. For our young professional it was time to move on. Not many were fortunate to get such a big jump in the thick of recession. But he was a star performer. This time it was a detour to another IT major. Better compensation and better position. Happiness was back.
Then the verification happened. Dcode went into action.
In his impatience to climb the ladder to prosperity he did what many youth inadvertently blunder into. The days of unemployment after college were painful and ignominious. Sometime success eludes even the brightest. He was not as lucky as his batch mates who took lesser time to take off and began going places as he helplessly looked on. Feeling of helplessness and ignominy took the better of him.
Desperate situation leads to desperate measures. That the desperate measures at times can have far reaching consequences, he understood very late.
The report on his very first employment was a shocker. The company was non-existent. All kinds of searches met with dead-end. However, when field verification was done a company with a different name was found in the same address. The proprietor of the company acknowledged that there indeed was a software development company by that name but had closed down some six years back.
This information further deepened the mystery. The subject under verification had a total of five years of employment experience. That meant the company was already closed when he was still in the college. We asked the proprietor about the person, the Director, who had signed the service letter, the only document available with us. Yes, he remembered the Director of the company but had no knowledge of his present whereabouts.
But some one knew him well. The old security of the office complex even remembered his fancy car number.
At last the Director was traced to a location in Bangalore where he now ran a manpower consultancy services for IT companies. The Director looked at the document signed by him and stared long at us without a word. As the color of his face changed from pink to purple, as if he had seen the dead walking out of the grave, he blurted out that it was a fake. Everything, the company letter head as well as the signature was forged! But could he commit in writing whatever he had said? No. He wouldn’t do that.
Some more digging and we came to learn that our Director had helped many such desperate youth with experience letters for a hefty amount. In the beginning of IT boom in India such consultancies had a roaring business. The emergence of background verifying agencies witnessed this nefarious business loosing its importance. Yet some players continued to operate clandestinely and made some desperate youths their easy prey.
Our young professional was one of them.
Today dishonest job applicants are trying to infiltrate the industry by unethical means. Background screening is the only way to deter such attempts.
Case 4 : A Story Retold: The Case of A Corporate Mole
This is a case narrated to me by a friend who was once employed with an IT multinational as a Security Lead. Company HR approached the security team with a case of an employee who had stopped reporting for his duty without any information. Attempts to contact on his phone had failed. His friends and colleagues had no knowledge of him. The response from his home was more intriguing. He had simply vanished in thin air!
On physical inspection of his local address it was found that no one ever lived in that flat by that name. His local address was a phony. His permanent address was also a fake. There was no father or mother to take the call.
The software engineer had worked in a senior position for a year and few months before he did the disappearing act. What bothered the top management was that the employee was working with key customers. Besides, within a very short time he had struck a very excellent rapport with all customers. His customer management was so good that the customers were not ready to interact with anyone but him.
Thorough search of his workstations and laptop didn’t reveal anything. Everything was in order. There was no evidence of a man leaving in a hurry or without a plan. Security experts concluded the exit was well panned. Questions baffling everyone were why a senior professional choose to leave unceremoniously and how a person could just vanish without a trace.
Within a month of his disappearance when one of company’s top customers terminated the contract and signed up with one of the competitors the mystery deepened and the management think-tanks needed an answer.
His hiring process was looked into. The engineer had only two stints before he joined the company. The last company could never be verified as the company was already closed. This was also clearly stated by the applicant in his declaration form. Information available in the internet about the Hyderabad based company said very little other than that the company had gone out of business. Ironically the HR verification had stopped there. There was never a confirmation whether he had really worked in that company.
After some good digging the proprietor of the closed Hyderabad based company was traced. The proprietor categorically denied having knowledge of anyone working in his company any time in the past. To make sure he made few calls to some ex-employees only to get a confirmation of the same.
The scene of the investigation now shifted to Bangalore, where he had his first stint. Years had passed and there had been many changes in that company. Earlier, the report from the HR had confirmed his first employment. But there was hardly any one in the company who knew him and could be questioned as to where he went after he left that company.
The System Admin still worked in that company and he remembered him as a very smart and an amiable guy. Did he ever move to Hyderabad? Oh no. Why would he move to Hyderabad when he got a better opportunity in Banaglore itself? The System Admin was very sure.
The ground shook when the management came to know the truth. He came from their competitor! He never relocated to Hyderabad. The game plan was to enter the rival camp and hijack key customers. The mole had succeeded.
Later the same mole was reported heading the Singapore branch of the same company. That was his reward for pulling out some of the most important customers from their competitor.
The story is sordid but the moral of the story is ‘lesson is learnt only after the damage is done’. Shall we wait till the damage is done? In the contemporary society a fraud, a thug or a mole does not have a face. They are corporate virus. They are slimy and not easily detectible. When corporate crime is on the rise there is a greater need to put the HR practices under microscope. The bigger the enterprise the greater is the risk.
But most vulnerable are the smaller enterprises. They sit cool thinking they are not the target of such corporate viruses. Wrong they are. The virus attacks the unprotected system easily than the secured ones. By allowing employees entry through fraudulent means the small enterprises give an identity to the unsuitable job applicants and thus allow them to walk confident in the corporate corridors.
Enterprises must go for background checks right from the day of its inception. The record should be made straight right from the word go.
Case 5 : The Mistress of Forgery
She spent ten years of her career in the Middle East. When Dubai dipped like many others she also returned India. experience. And he successfully cleared the interview for a plum job in a multinational company in India.
As a routine practice a background verification was initiated. The report from the college where he did his graduation stunned us. He never passed his degree exam.
Oops!How did he do his MBA?
A verification was initiated at the institute where he did his MBA. The report from the institute was even more shocking. He had cleared the exam successfully. First class with above 80%!.
When the management was informed that the candidate had not cleared his graduation the authorities had no reply. This promised more muck.
University was approached as both the certificates had university stamp.
Though the verification process at the universities at times can be very time consuming, yet it was worth the wait. At last the Controller of the Examination sent the report. Both the certificates were fake! To the ordinary eyes the certificates appeared very genuine.
The same candidate was also found absconding from one of the previous employers.
Case 6 : Conman or a Computer Professional?
This is the story of a professional who managed to con some of the big companies in the most subtle way never known before. He can best be described as shrewd, intelligent and uncanny. He could have become a top software professional but for the path he choose.
After his basic education he did a diploma in computer science. Later he did his Post Graduate Diploma from an institute that could never be traced. But there was a certificate to prove his claim. He did his B.Sc in Computer Science from a University somewhere in Chhattisgarh that was ordered to shut down by Supreme Court of India. Coincidentally the certificate was signed just two days before the closure of the university following the injunction of the highest court
His foray into the IT domain was through a small software development centre in Hyderabad. The experience there must have been very good. By virtue of that experience he moved to a bigger establishment. In the days of hurricane hiring the company preferred to ignore scrutiny of his resume.
Bigger domain, bigger experience. And mind you he was a quick learner and intelligent. He worked there very well for four years. The appreciation letter from the top management bore testimony to his excellent work which was verified to be true from the very person who had signed that document. The gentleman who belonged to the level of Vice President had even more to say than the words in the appreciation letter.
Now more confident than ever before he aimed entry into MNCs. It was harvest time. But entry into reputed firms demanded better experience which he lacked. He had a solution. He quoted in his resume two such companies that could never be traced. But to avoid any kind of suspicion he clearly stated in his CV that those companies had closed shop. In the absence of clear details the documents could never be verified. However, reference from one of those companies led to a person who turned out to be a con man. Blogs about this man said he floated a fictitious company to offer genuine joining and relieving letters. He had a mail ID and a number which could never be reached.
The other company quoted in the CV was his own make. The company was located in the net but the web address had his signature. The web was designed in such a way that it could escape even the most prying of eyes.
In the new world order of networking and web communities it’s not very difficult to follow anyone knowing a little bit of computer and internet, least to say about the contemporary professionals. But the HR Head who had signed the relieving letter was nowhere to be found. He must have realized the vulnerability of his claims and information. He also knew it required better craftsmanship to dodge the screening process.
He played a master stroke. He got all his documents, especially, as was found later, all forged and fake ones, attested by the Forensic Science Laboratory of the Andhra Pradesh Police Department. All these copies were signed by one Scientific Officer from the forensic lab.
Ingenuous yet intriguing!
He was aware of the screening process and got all those fake documents validated by the government agency, the ultimate agency to have the final say in screening process. It’s altogether a different story how he managed to hoodwink the forensic professionals of the police department.
Case 7 : The Fraud
He held a first class degree in MBA. Certificate was issued by one of the reputed university in south India. He also had overseas work experience. And he successfully cleared the interview for a plum job in a multinational company in India. As a routine practice a background verification was initiated. The report from the college where he did his graduation stunned everybody. He never passed his degree exam. Ooops! How did he do his MBA? A verification was initiated at the institute where he did his MBA.
The report from the institute was even more shocking. He had cleared the exam successfully. First class with above 80%!. When the management was informed that the candidate had not cleared his graduation the authorities had no reply. This promised more muck. University was approached as both the certificates had university stamp. Though the verification process at the universities at times can be very time consuming, yet it's worth the wait. At last the Controller of the Examination sent the report. Both the certificates were fake! To the ordinary eyes the certificates appeared very genuine. Meanwhile, one of the previous employers of the candidate sent a report stating that the candidate had left the company all of a sudden and without any information.
Background Checks in India:
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Business Risk : Criminal Background Check : Data theft : Education Background verification : Employee Background Application : Employee fraud : Fake Forge Fraud : HR Identity check Identity theft : Negligent hiring : Pre- employment screening : Verification Workplace : Security Workplace violence
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