HR Manager Caught Lying…The Second Time Around


If you lie about your education credentials in the U.K., you’re not only out of the job – you’re going to court too!

An HR Manager re-applying for her position after a company re-organization was found to have falsified her academic accomplishments.  She had claimed to be in the process of a completing an HR training course, hold both a HRM degree and a marketing certificate from Oxford Brookes University as well as an advanced marketing certificate from Swindon College.  Turns out this wasn’t the case and she has now been given a six month suspended prison sentence, 150 hours of community service and is forced to pay £9,600 in compensation.

I’m guessing a thorough background check wasn’t conducted when she was hired which is why she was able to get away with her lies for the three years she worked for the company. 

This story teaches us two things:  First, it is important to screen ANY person that may work for your company – high and lower level positions.  Dishonesty isn’t exclusive to those with little to no work experience.  Second, continually screening your employees is vital to making sure they are keeping on the straight and narrow.  You never know what you may find the second time around!

HR manager sentenced for lying about qualifications

Employers reminded that risk of staff fraud can exist in all layers of management

By Claire Churchard, People Management – January 6, 2009   

Employers have been reminded of the risks of employment fraud after Kerrie Devine, an HR manager in Devon, was given a suspended prison sentence for lying about her qualifications.

Devine, a senior NHS human resources manager from Lympstone, was found guilty of lying about her qualifications to Devon Primary Care Trust (PCT) in the course of reapplying for a post after a reorganisation.

Devine was HR manager at East Devon PCT between 2003 and 2006, but when East Devon PCT was dissolved into newly-formed Devon PCT, staff were required to submit expressions of interest in new posts at Devon PCT.

Devine, who was on a lengthy period of sickness absence at the time, was found to have submitted a dishonest application in her expression of interest in March 2007.

She falsely claimed to be part way through a CIPD course and to hold a degree in HRM from Oxford Brookes University. She also falsely claimed to hold a certificate in marketing from the same university, and a Chartered Institute of Marketing advanced certificate from Swindon College.

Exeter Crown Court gave Devine a six-month suspended prison sentence and ordered her to pay £9,600 in compensation. She must also carry out 150 hours of community service. The investigation was carried out by the NHS Counter Fraud Service (CFS).

Debbie Lloyd, south-west operational fraud manager of the NHS CFS, said: “This positive outcome to our investigation is a reminder that fraud against the NHS can be committed by people in well-paid, senior positions.”

David Chernick, senior manager at KPMG Forensic and chairman of anti-fraud body PREFIT, added that the case also illustrated the value of secondary checks on people who had been employed for some time.

He said a second opportunity to check credentials often comes when there are changes to employment contracts. “I predict that many employers will find dishonesty the second time around.

“Credential checks are an important thing for HR to do and if they don’t carry them out then the security guys will increasingly have to take over the responsibility.”

Greg Allen, director of human resources and workforce development at NHS Devon, said: “We believe that the publicity surrounding the court case sends a clear message to people that if you defraud, or attempt to defraud the NHS, you will face the full force of the law.

“Kerrie [Devine] purported to give professional HR advice on the back of qualifications that she did not have. She also went out of her way to cover the tracks of her deception.

“No one should be in any doubt about the message. If you try to deceive the NHS you will be found out and dealt with appropriately.”

  • Dear IQ Blog: February 25, 2010

    Hopefully I will be able to interest you in reporting about a “cover-up” of the fraudulent use of academic credentials (a non-existent MA) by the president of a New Jersey State University. (Each time you read “letter” – that “letter” is available upon request.

    New Jersey’s largest news paper (Star-Ledger) refuses to cover this story — because its managing editor is a member of the same board as the president in question – and this president has a second full-time job ($400,000) at a financial institution which has possible connections with the NJ Governor. (Google: “Carlos Hernandez – profile. Forbes”) This President has absolutely no financial background – and his university has the highest “failure-to-graduate” rate in the nation.


    * Due to a complaint I sent to then Governor Christine Whitman; the State Commission of Higher Education (CHE) sent me a letter (11//98) stating: NJCU President Hernandez “was eligible to apply for a master’s in 1980 but apparently did not do so…the error in the university’s catalog has been corrected.”

    * Star-Ledger 8/99. A columnist reports (available) a ten-year “no-show” professor at NJCU (another great story by itself).

    * I received a letter (11/01) from the NJ Inspector General confirming a ten year “no-show” NJCU professor, but stating that “nothing could be done about it – because the NJCU Board had passed resolutions authorizing this professor to be absent from NJCU for more than ten years (a fantastic story, much of which is still on-line).

    * At the request of former NJ Governor Corzine, I received a letter from the CHE (6/06) stating that the NJCU President “completed the requirements for the MA, but did not apply for the degree.” (Interesting)

    * December 2007. Due to my repeated requests, to former Governor Corzine, the Attorney General’s Office, the Inspector General, the Commission of Higher Education, the NJ Auditor, and the Public Advocate (I had been punished for whistle blowing) the University – upon advice from these State agencies — hired a former “Associate Attorney General” ($150,000) – this attorney works directly for the University’s Board – but is assigned to the President’s Office. It’s his responsibility to “protect” the University President from these fraud charges (help to ensure the continued “cover-up’).

    * January 2008; I visit the Chairman of NJ Assembly’s Higher Education Committee.

    * March 2008. At the request of the Chairman of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, I receive a letter from the CHE stating that the University President used “un-awarded credentials that is prohibited by NJAC 9A:1-81.”

    * June 2008. The University hires ($50,000 annually) “Ethics Point” to “handle” (create the appearance of doing something) complaints involving fraud. Ethics Point takes the fraud reports and submits them to — the University President. Self-investigation? Would any above-board institution engage in such an obviously disingenuous activity?

    * October, 2008. I sent a letter to the University Board President asking him how he can continue doing nothing about the University President having used fraud to become president.

    * February, 2009. Board President’s response to my 10/08 letter: — because the CHE never used the word “fraud” in any of its letters to me, therefore (according to the University Board) no fraud was committed – and only the Board can determine when fraudulent academic credentials have been used.

    * April 2009. I wrote to the Governor of Maryland for help in pressuring NJ Governor Corzine to do something about the on-going fraud at this University. I note in this letter, that the Director of NJ’s CHE has recently been nominated to the fill a position with President Obama’s Administration – and that when she had the obligation to do something about fraud at this particular NJ University – she refused to do so.

    * May 4, 2009. I received a response (letter) from the Maryland Governor saying that he’s forwarded my complaints to NJ Governor Corzine.

    * July 2009. Star-Ledger (New Jersey’s largest news paper) columnist Bob Braun admits (in his NJ Voices exchanges) that New Jersey City University President Carlos Hernandez used a non-existent academic degree to become NJCU’s president. Interestingly, Braun won’t classify this act as “fraudulent” because, according to Braun, if the NJCU Board of Trustees knew that the president was using a fraudulent academic degree, it can’t be classified as fraud.

    What has been summarized here is outright fraud. If you call the university, you’ll be told that “everything related to the president’s fraud has already been investigated by the CHE, the Attorney General, and the Governor’s Office – and now “Ethics Point.”

    And herein is your possible story.

    I can factually document that this President used fraud to become an academic vice president (a sham nation-wide search?) and then the president (another sham of a nation-wide search). And no NJ Governmental agency will tell you any differently.

    So why then have football coaches been fired for using fraudulent academic degrees – but not a university president? And, possibly my ten-year perseverance might be a story. Or, my having been punished for “whistle blowing” — after the professors at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey were publicly condemned for having done nothing about the long-term recently exposed abuses at that school.

    There is a good reason why New Jersey has a well-deserved reputation for doing little, if anything, about corruption in that state. And what you have just read is one solid example of it.

    William Dusenberry