Aristotle said that “The least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousand-fold.” While Aristotle might have understated the multiplier effect of the internet by orders of magnitude he certainly understood the problems that a single act of dishonesty can bring to an organization when the bad news gets out.

With more companies using online resume screening tools as part of faster sourcing of top quality job candidates, the pressure is even greater on applicants to present resumes and qualifications that result in being invited to the interview.

There is no typical profile of the person using fake degrees or job level for which fake degrees are being offered. In our practice we see an equal representation of both sexes when it comes to fake degrees and equal numbers for any job which requires specific education or certification levels.

To answer our question as to who is responsible for the proliferation of fake degrees we return to Aristotle’s book on Ethics for guidance. Aristotle would conclude that a person submitting a fake degree was an “act from deliberate choice” and the individual “bears full responsibility for his wickedness” and this…“type of act is most serious and should be punished and condemned…severely.”

Do employers share some of the blame for the alarming growth in the cottage industry that has grown up providing fake degrees that include anti-counterfeit holograms, sealed transcripts on watermarked paper and even copies of graduation letters, enrolment notices, proof of tuition payments, admission letters, and student photo ID cards? Yes!

Without diminishing the personal responsibility of those who buy and use these fake documents, we believe that employers- and their Human Resources professionals – share a significant burden of responsibility for the existence and growth of this industry when they fail to check the validity of the documents they request from job applicants and simply put copies into their personnel files.

If job applicants knew all documents submitted would be verified by the prospective employer just as all claims on the resume would be subject to verification and reference checking, this would eliminate the exaggeration and fraud and level the field so that job applicants no longer fear being beaten out by the fakers and creative writing artists. It is time for employers to change their screening practices and stop stimulating the demand.