Professor Forged Ph.D. to Keep Job, Get Higher Pay

We are seeing more and more of these stories as employers are catching on to this con game.  As background checks are now part of many employers’ hiring practices, resume lies and forged credentials are being debunked before the applicant can step through the front door.  But what about those who have already made it past the front gate and collected a paycheck (or 150)?  What you don’t know may be hurting you.

Former UNL professor arrested; police say he lied about Ph.D.

By Brandi Kruse, NewsNetNebraska – April 29, 2009

A former University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty member has been arrested on charges of fraud for misrepresenting his academic standing and pocketing a higher university salary as a result.

On April 10, UNL police launched an investigation into Bradley West, a former assistant professor of management in the UNL College of Business Administration.

“It was discovered that he did not obtain his Ph.D. but provided the UNL department a false record,” said Captain Carl Oestmann with the UNL Police Department.

Police say West gave the college a forged Ph.D. certificate from Michigan State University to keep his job as an associate professor.

Oestmann said West was offered the position in 2005 with the stipulation he finish the Ph.D.

“The offer clearly states that if he had not completed his Ph.D. … the job title would change to instructor for up to two years,” Oestmann said. 

At the end of two years, West would have been let go if he had not provided proof he had finished the degree. Oestmann said West gave the university the forged certificate in 2007, the year his position would have been terminated.

Oestmann said UNL police believe West used the forged document for monetary gain in the form of salary increases totaling more than $5,000.


Live from Vegas at the Staffing Mgt. Conference

Good morning from the exhibit hall at the SHRM Staffing Management Conference in Las Vegas.  The conference started yesterday and I thought those of you who couldn’t attend would be interested in finding out what you’ve missed.

It should be no surprise that attendance is down to about 800 from the record number of 1,200 attendees last year.  Given the current state of our economy, I think that is an impressive number.  SHRM has done a great job of tailoring their programming to the here and now.  They are not glossing over the issues HR professionals face in today’s economy and are providing very realistic information about what the near future holds.

While exhibit hall traffic isn’t what it has been, we had a number of great conversations with attendees yesterday.  Many have shared their challenges as they relate to employment background screening.  I am encouraged by the depth of knowledge that HR professionals now have about background checks.  Only a few years ago, most just considered them an obstacle in their in-boarding process.  Not any more.

I also have to give the folks from SHRM props for sending members of their executives teams out there to thank both exhibitors and attendees for coming out to the conference.  Their sincerity was obvious and I think it is a nice touch.

This morning, employeescreenIQ President and COO, Jason Morris led a educational session entitled “What Employers Need to Know About Social Networking Sites”.  Couldn’t believe how many showed up for a 7am session.  And no one left!

Okay, exhibit hall opens in a couple.  Gotta go spread the gospel about employeescreenIQ.  More to follow.

Official Who Ok’d N.Y. Flyby Accused of “Felony Stupidity”

While a charge of “Felony Stupidity” would not show up in a background check (although in this case, maybe it should), you can be sure that any hiring manager who has the name Louis Caldera cross their desk will think ‘Was this the guy?’  But don’t be quick to judge  – this is a pretty common name.  If he’s got “Director of the White House Military Office” listed on his resume however, you know you’ve got the right one.

Words of advice for the Louis Caldera in question: Don’t apply for a job in New York City – EVER.

What took place in the city of New York on Monday is both shocking and deplorable.  How Mr. Caldera could have approved such a  mission (and a ridiculous one at that) is mind boggling, especially when a much faster, cheaper and less calamitous alternative exists.  It’s called Photoshop.

“Furious’ Obama Orders Review of NY Plane Fly-OverCNN

Create-Your-Own NYC Air Force One FlyOver Photo…We Did. – By Owen Moritz, NY Daily News Writer

Woman Fired For Using Facebook While Off Sick

Have you ever played hooky from school and then inadvertently ran into one of your teachers later that same day?  Talk about an uncomfortable situation.  Same goes for your job – if you call off sick with a migraine stating that staring at a computer screen all day at work will make it worse, don’t get caught using Facebook at home.  One woman did and found herself out of the job.

I have to say, I sympathize with this woman.  If she truly was using her phone to access Facebook, that is markedly different that a 17 inch flatscreen monitor.  But it’s still a difficult argument to make.

Woman Fired For Using Facebook While Off Sick

City News Toronto – April 27, 2009

Social networking sites like FacebookMySpace and Twitter have changed the way many people communicate and have had an unexpected impact on the workplace. Some companies have instituted policies blocking the popular web destinations, because workers spend too much time chatting with friends and not enough on their jobs.

And many prospective employers now troll the sites to find out what possible hires are leaving out of their resumes and what their attitudes are really like, leading some to lose a shot at increasingly limited openings.

Which brings us to another cautionary tale about Facebook, and an employee who lost her job because of it – even though she wasn’t using it at work.

Last November, a woman in Zurich, Switzerland called her employer, an insurance company, and told them she was too ill to come into work that day. Part of her duties involved using a computer, but she claimed her cure involved lying in the dark and that she was unable to face the lighted screen.


4/27/2009 Confederate Memorial Day

Confederate Memorial Day

Please note that all courts in the state of Mississippi will be closed on Monday April 27, 2009 in observance of [Confederate Memorial Day]( Expect a 24 hour delay in all requests leading up to the holiday.

Do You Oppose Ohio SB 91 Banning Employment Credit Reports?

Earlier this week, we blogged about state of Ohio Senator Ray Miller’s proposed bill that would ban employers from evaluating credit reports on prospective job candidates.  We are opposed to Senator Miller’s bill and think that such a measure would severely restrict state employers from making informed hiring decisions.

It is our understanding that this bill (Senate Bill 91) is now in committee.  It won’t even see the senate floor unless the committee ultimately supports the bill.  While it is early in the game, we decided that we wanted to some proactive steps to educate our legislators about the potential ramifications of this bill.  Listed below is a letter we have sent to Senator Miller as well to the senator who represents our district, Nina Turner.

employeescreenIQ Opposition Letter to Senate Bill 91

We encourage all employers in the state of Ohio as well as those who employ anyone in the state to get involved as well.  Feel free to borrow any language from our letter and let Senator Miller and your representatives know that you are opposed to this bill.

Senator Ray Miller

Senate Building

Room #228, Second Floor

Columbus Ohio 43215

Telephone: 614/466-5131

More on Stroger: Background Check Was Lost

There’s a new update on the story we posted earlier this week about Cook County Board President Todd Stroger.  You may recall that he hired his good friend, Tony Cole, to work for the city even though this person had at least two felony criminal convictions on his record and allegations of rape.  He even kept Cole on the city’s payroll after his cousin, the now-former CFO, twice bailed him out of jail for violating an order of protection filed by his ex-girlfriend.

First, Stroger admitted that he knew about Cole’s background.  Now, he claims that the FBI background check that was mailed to him was “lost in the mail”.  Doesn’t this sound like “the dog ate my homework”?

See Chicago Tribune story below.

Cook County: Todd Stroger Sticks By Story About Worker’s Past

Cook County Board President Todd Stroger maintained Thursday that he has given consistent answers about an ongoing patronage scandal, even as new information cast doubt on his administration’s version of what happened before he dumped his cousin from the county’s top financial post.

The county’s personnel chief said Thursday that his staff received an FBI report Nov. 20 that showed a troubled steakhouse busboy Stroger put on the payroll lied about at least two previous criminal convictions on his job application and a sworn affidavit.

A couple of hours earlier, Illinois State Police told the Tribune that the agency mailed a final criminal background check to the Stroger administration Dec. 20 — more than three months before Stroger fired Tony Cole, who’s at the center of the controversy. Stroger blamed state police this week for Cole’s delayed firing, saying it took them three months to complete the check. On Thursday, a Stroger spokeswoman suggested that the report might have been “lost in the mail.”

Both revelations left more questions about Stroger’s repeated assertions that when he fired Cole on April 9, it was just days after learning about Cole’s undisclosed criminal convictions. County commissioners pressed Stroger for answers during a meeting called Thursday to discuss the scandal.


2009 NAPBS Annual Conference Re-Cap

foundersealThis week I had the pleasure of attending the 2009 National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) annual conference.  The conference was held in St. Louis and ended yesterday April 22nd.  Despite the economy, this years’s conference was a huge success.  NAPBS is getting ready to launch it’s new Accreditation Program titled, Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program!  Many of this years meetings focused on this revolutionary new program which is centered around raising the bar of the background screening industry!

I personally attended many great seminars including; Best Practices in International Screening, What CRA’s need to know about Title VII – The Road From GRIGGS to SEPTA, International Compliance Featuring Safe Harbor, Managing Client Expectations for International Background and Many more.  I had to opportunity once again to speak at this years conference.  I co-presented at the History of NAPBS seminar and sat on a few panels regarding the upcoming accreditation program.

The conference ended with an exciting Key Note address from Joel Winston, Associate Director of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Joel gave us insight into Red Flag Rules, Social Security Numbers, Identity Theft, Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and more!

It was great to hear some exciting feedback on employeescreen University and our Blog.  The intent of these two vehicles was to educate the marketplace but it seems to have become quite the educational portal for our industry.  Many competitors complimented us on a job well done with the University.

I look foward to the mid-year meeting in Atlanta, GA!

Resumes, the Dodo Bird, Congress, and High Speed DSL

A caller to a recent NPR radio show suggested resumes go on the endangered species list. Several guests supported the caller, claiming Google and social media outlets like YouTube and Facebook were better ways to judge qualifications.

According to one guest, the staff of a U.S. Congressman appears to agree.


A 21st century guy

Blog entry: April 22, 2009, 10:12 am     |     Author: SCOTT SUTTELL

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, an up-and-coming Democrat from Niles, is a pretty modern guy. An anecdote about him on NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” show Tuesday reinforces the point.

The show built off a Washington Post feature about spring cleaning that asked 10 writers to name institutions or people we’d be better off without.

A “Talk of the Nation” caller suggested the country would be a better place without resumes, which are so polished and formulaic that they tell employers nothing of value about an applicant.

One of the show’s guests, Ana Marie Cox, national correspondent for Air America, agreed and noted that at a recent event Rep. Ryan mentioned that he no longer accepts resumes from people who want to work in his office. Instead, according to Ms. Cox, the congressman requires job applicants to take a writing test and to submit a YouTube video about themselves.

Pretty great idea. For the record, Rep. Ryan on his web site posts some biographical information but no formal resume, and the home page features 35 YouTube videos on various topics.


Click the link below for the audio piece. The comments are around the 24 minute mark.


Now, it is important to note that our staff has not corroborated the hiring practices claimed in the article or the NPR piece. So this isn’t a commentary about a Congressional office’s hiring practice. But it’s an interesting concept.

Are resumes “”positioned” to make a candidate look good? Of course. And while I appreciate the novelty of the idea and embrace using technology to complement a hiring strategy, I obviously disagree. After all, how do you know if what the applicant says on YouTube or their Facebook and LinkedIn profile is accurate?

We find discrepancies on resumes about 55% of the time. Not all result in a client pulling a job offer. But many of them do. How many discrepancies would be found by watching a video online? Depending on where he or she worked, how many of you would be comfortable with that person in that position?

Next week in Las Vegas, employeescreenIQ will be at the SHRM Staffing Management Conference speaking about the dangers of using social networking sites as a pre-employment screening tool. If you will be there, we’d love you to stop by and add your .02.