Stern carried out extensive employee background screening for a client recently and discovered an employee with fake academic credentials. The client had shared a list of candidates who were performing quite poorly vis-à-vis their academic qualification. The employee in question was one of them. His academic credentials indicated a meritorious MBA graduate with distinction. A detailed background investigation later, his degree was revealed to be completely fake. Not one, but two!
He claimed to have an undergraduate degree in commerce from a top college in Bangalore University and a MBA degree from Manipal University in Karnataka. Both of these were found to be counterfeit. The employee was, in all sense and purposes, a second-class high school graduate working in a top MNC earning a phenomenal amount of money for his qualification.
When the employee was confronted with this information, he confessed & stated that he had mugged up adequate responses for the HR interview process from a friend in this profession to substantiate his lack of knowledge and to appear deserving for the position he had applied for.
â€œWhy should I study & waste my time when I can simply buy my qualifications. Who cares anyway?â€, says the avid fake degree holder, quite impassioned by his choice. What went wrong in this hiring? The HR department of most organizations deal with scores of applicants on a regular basis. For them to check up on every fine detail in the CV personally is next to impossible. This daunting task is generally outsourced to background check companies in India.
Sale & purchase of counterfeit degrees is not uncommon. Several â€œmiddlemenâ€ or â€œbrokersâ€ as they are generally referred to, deal in this shady business. With lack of dedication towards education, discrepancies in the Indian education system, a general favour towards candidates with a higher score or grade and the unemployment rate climbing off the charts, these unscrupulous dealers have no dearth of clients. It would not be an overstatement to say that the effortless way in which these sales are made, this is a solid & functional industry in itself.
While the employee clearly indicated the state of education pricing in India, a nation that is revered for its intel across the globe and yet, is in a severe need for the opportunity to obtain equal, affordable & quality education for everyone-thereâ€™s simply no excuse for, for the lack of a better term, his â€œlazyâ€ attitude towards his growth that can only emanate from gaining professional knowledge in his area of interest.
The counterfeit degree business is profitable and apparently, quite easy. All one needs is a basic working knowledge of computer and printing software and voila!- youâ€™ve got yourself a fake degree business. With the advent of color photocopying technology, even the holograms and trademark seals are easily imitated and manufactured.
The business is now online, making it an actual commercial business venture or more commonly called â€œDegree Millsâ€ or â€œDiploma Millsâ€. There is one such website named â€œDiploma company.inâ€ offering a plethora of professional degrees for sale. While lucrative and convenient, one must realise that the more these mills churn out fake degrees, the overall quality of several professions lower more and more.
Consider this. The employee in question was based in an office job. His fake credentials hurt the company not just financially but also qualitatively. What if this employee decided he wanted a medical degree? A quack in the place of your doctor can only spell disaster for your health. Counterfeiting hurts everyone.
Measures are being taken by several organizations & the Government as well to discourage and eventually, curb this malpractice. Kerala University, for example, has proactively made it a point to record the present address and contact details of each candidate & publish the basic details of candidates clearing various examinations each year.
The Indian Judiciary has passed numerous laws against the miscreants and perpetrators of the diploma mills, namely, IPC Section 465 for forgery, Section 467 for forgery of valuable security, 468 for forgery for the purpose of cheating and 471 for using as genuine a forged document and 420 for cheating.
The employee in question will face many of these charges deservedly. But there are many like him. More than weâ€™d like to know. More than weâ€™d care to admit. There is a good chance your staff member is one of them. â€œWho cares anyway?,â€ he says. I bet you would if he were your employee.