South Africa

Fake qualifications on the increase according to verifications companies

Risk vetting company LexisNexis uncovered the highest level of qualifications fraud ever last year according to Rudi Kruger who is the general manager of their risk department.

“By far the most fraud was committed with matric certificates while tertiary qualifications came in second with fraud levels rising from five percent the previous year to close on seven percent this year.”

Tertiary qualifications that they categorise as “unable to confirm” came in at a whopping 10%, Kruger said.

He said this category included qualifications that had been lost by graduates and that universities or colleges were unable to confirm, in some cases due to administrative problems.

He said so-called degree mills continued to pose a problem as many employers took their fake certificates at face value.

“Technically they have made great strides in producing degrees and diplomas that look almost exactly like the real thing,” he said.

Danie Strydom, CEO of one of South Africa’s largest qualifications verification companies, QVS, said there had been a noticeable increase in the number of qualification verifications done by his company as well.

“We usually have a failure rate of about 10% for qualifications that have either been tampered with or are outright fakes. Over the past 12 months this figure has been steadily climbing to about %.”

Strydom said with South Africa’s current economic challenges, the temptation to falsify qualifications is real.

Independent economist Dawie Roodt said the main reason why qualifications fraud was so prevalent was the fact that unemployment in general was running at about 25% while youth unemployment could be as high as 50%

“The attitude among many students is that they don’t care if they are caught out because they look around them and see many public figures with false qualifications managing to hold on to their jobs despite being caught out”, according to Roodt,”

Strydom said more had to be done to raise awareness among job applicants that lying on their CVs or falsifying their qualifications is fraud.

He said fake and fraudulent qualifications were much more prevalent than most employers realised.

“There is not yet an awareness of just how easy it is to falsify degrees and diplomas that look exactly like the real thing with software programs.

“We know from experience that degree fraudsters are often accomplished liars who can talk themselves into a job.