Have you ever been duped, swindled or conned? It’s not a great feeling. The word ‘con’ as in conman or confidence trickster comes from the idea that this person sets out to defraud an individual or company by first gaining his victim’s confidence or trust. One Victor Lustig actually ‘sold’ the Eiffel Tower for scrap metal. Andre Poisson, duped by forged government credentials, the limousine ride to the site, and the tale that the city could no longer afford its upkeep handed over a sizable sum but was too embarrassed to report the fraud to police.
But conmen are not just the high rollers whose legendary exploits make headlines. Charles Ponzi or Bernie Madoff’s CV may be sitting in your inbox as you read this, though at first their ambitions may not be any greater than infiltrating your company or climbing the corporate ladder. In the best-case scenario, with fraudulent qualifications the result of the con is called plain old incompetence at performing the job they were hired to do. The fallout? There’s deterioration in customer relationships, workplace morale or damage done to the company’s brand as a person ill-qualified for their position goes about their workday like the proverbial bull in a china shop.
Suddenly the person isn’t quite performing as expected, and thus begins the long and costly road of disciplinary headaches leading ultimately towards termination of employment. In the meantime a company may have spent money on the recruitment process, advertising the position and paying a labour broker for the staff member hired. (And if you were the recruitment agent who made the placement, you can kiss your reputation goodbye.) Then there’s the sunk cost of training that employee and any further investment in skills development. Again, this is all the best-case scenario. What of the conman with a criminal record that was never picked up? Once they’re in, the sky’s the limit. There’s theft, embezzlement, harassment and much worse.
Stopping the confidence trickster in their tracks is really as simple as a background check. Fraudcheck.co.za offers a comprehensive report based on criminal, academic and credit checks, which can be available within 48 hours.
The Eiffel Tower was ‘sold’ way back in 1925 and confidence tricksters continue to punctuate front-page news much to the public’s amusement - and industry’s bottom line. One Dr Albuquerque (yes, really) was fired recently for practicing as a medical doctor at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital for over five years without any qualifications. MEC Qedani Mahlangu says the department is checking to see if the salaries paid to the bogus doctor has been recouped. That’s taxpayers money for the ‘doctor’s’ salary, and for the MEC’s time and the investigation. There is a very real price to be paid in taking people at their word. Of course there are also costs incurred in establishing a person is who he says he is, but these are surely outweighed by the money saved in the long and short term.
Ultimately any initial outlay is vindicated to avoid that sinking feeling that one has been deceived. Just ask the principal of the Dr Pallo Jordan Primary School in the Eastern Cape town of Lady Grey when it comes time to explain to its young learners why their school is being renamed. One wonders if the school will simply be dropping the title of ‘Dr’ or if it will aspire to a new hero altogether. Why did the disgraced former minister lie on his CV? Speaking candidly in a recent interview he revealed. “It opens various doors, not in terms of making money, but in terms of your opinions being weighed and considered worthwhile,” he said. It also gave access to people “one did not normally have access to”. And “Dr Jordan” was rarely questioned about where his doctorate came from.
Therein lies the rub. Fraudcheck.co.za asks where qualifications come from. From matric certificates, degrees, diplomas, MBAs, or Doctorates. With Fraudcheck.co.za, SABC Board Chairperson Ellen Tshabalala, with her ‘BComm’ would not have made it to an interview. No title is so grand that it’s beneath investigation. The country might have been spared some embarrassment had the Department of Foreign Relations used Fraudcheck.co.za to establish the credentials of its proposed ambassador to Japan, who claimed a non-existent doctorate, from a defunct University under FBI investigation for selling academic qualifications.
It’s a brave new world where no one need fall victim to a trick of confidence. Trust must be earned. Credentials must be checked. Fraud can be eliminated with Fraudcheck.co.za.