More job seekers using fake degrees

2014-06-09 00:00

ALMOST 15% of qualifications being used to get jobs in South Africa, could be fake.

Fake education credentials are a real problem for those hiring people as websites emerge where jobseekers can order a fake degree of their choice online.

“Using laser-cut holograms, embossed university logos and stamps from accredited commissioners of oath, the fake degrees are looking more and more like the real thing,” said Danie Strydom, chief executive of qualifications verification company QVS.

Cindy Norcott, chief executive of Westville-based recruitment company Pro Appointments, said industrywide statistics show that up to 14% of qualifications used to obtain jobs in this country are fraudulent.

Strydom said the proliferation of fake and fraudulent degrees, including those purportedly from most universities in South Africa, poses the very real threat of criminals trying to infiltrate businesses.

One website, for instance,, promises to offer a degree from universities in the UK “fast, within 7 days”, for $289 (around R3 000) including hand-delivery by a courier service.

“The most common forgeries are individuals forging degrees that they had not studied for or changing marks to show that they had passed subjects which they had in fact failed or not studied,” said Strydom.

Recruitment agencies have to go to great lengths these days to check education credentials.

“It is terribly unfortunate to discover that professionals, sometimes in very high profile roles, have been misleading regarding their qualifications or other employment details. In terms of our ethics and integrity we have to be transparent with stakeholders about the discovery of fraudulent information,” said Debbie Goodman-Bhyat, managing director of Jack Hammer Executive Headhunters.

The firm not only checks all qualifications on CVs, it also sometimes checks academic transcripts, so that if a candidate just scraped through, they would have to show their proficiency in other ways, such as in a good employment record.

The reputation of the institution also occasionally plays a role in the vetting of education qualifications, said Goodman-Bhyat.

Norcott said that apart from deliberate criminal activity such as using a fake degree, some of the other problems she encounters are artisans who have “lost” the papers for their qualifications, or where these papers have “burnt in a fire”.

She said that young adults also frequently don’t understand that if they are still studying, they are not legally allowed to list the qualification they are studying for on job applications, until they actually get it. Another problem is older people who may only have finished standard eight, which was quite common a long time ago, who list having passed matric as part of their education credentials.

Goodman-Bhyat said they check all qualifications and claims made by candidates on their CVs as their clients often do not have the resources and expertise to do the vetting required.

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