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Website offers fake references to assist people getting a job

Shauna Hunt and Alanna Kelly | posted Wednesday, Aug 31st, 2016

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A flashy website is selling fake credentials including an imaginary reference to help people land a real job.

CareerExcuse.com will give fake job references, resume rewriting, landlord references and even a real company reference for a price.

The Ohio base company says it will assign users to one of the 200 established company sites and a reference provider in their specific career field.

“You lack the employment history, have unexplainable gaps in your past employment, lack the required references due to leaving on bad terms, being self-employed or to many short contract assignments?” the website asks.

Reference checking is very important said Gena Griffin, regional manager of Robert Half, a staffing firm in Toronto. Griffin said she has been working in the industry for 18 years and has only experienced a fake reference once.

“We’ve encountered it, but it is very, very rare,” said Griffin about fake references.

“The more specific you can be in the reference you do and the more you relate it to the actual interview you had the more you can assess if it is a valid reference,” Griffin said.

Robert Half will consult with two previous supervisors of a candidate when asking for references.

“We look to do that with the most recent supervisor and, depending on the role the company is looking to hire them for, maybe a peer level reference if that is important to the role they are taking on and a subordinate reference.”

Griffin said their organization asks for a company name, business phone number and they will also Google the company to check for its validity.

“I would say that some of our websites actually look better than the real companies,” said William Schmidt, founder of Career Excuse. He added that 30 percent of their members are Canadian and they have over 5,000 members using their database.

Sometimes he gives up to 10 references a day.

“Canada and Toronto is a big part of our market,” Schmidt said. “A lot of IT, high tech fields in that area.”

Griffin said that when checking references they will be very specific with details.

“We will reference certain experiences the person said that they have had,” she said. “We try to be as specific as possible beyond the resume to validate the experience and interview process we’ve had,” said Griffin.


Ways to spot a fake reference:

  • Ask about specific technical work they have done
  • Ask how they got along with other team members
  • Questions about their attendance and punctuality
  • Discuss what they are most passionate about

Griffin said she will then compare those answers from a reference to the ones that were asked during the interview process.

But Schmidt said that the purpose of Career Excuse is to provide more interviews for the members allowing more possibilities of landing a job.

“One of the toughest things for companies to overcome in references is the fear that people have in giving any additional information,” said Griffin.

Most companies will give the time of employment, title and company but feel reluctant to go beyond that in fear of being held legally responsible.

Griffin said perhaps the reason they don’t experience fake references is because they are dealing with professional positions at companies.

Schmidt said that the members of Career Excuse vary from bartenders to vice presidents of Fortune 500 companies. “A majority of our members are executive level, high tech, IT, executive management and finance.”

He added that in the seven-and-half years of Career Excuse in operation, he is shocked they haven’t been busted more.

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