According to a 2018 study by the Florian Mantione Institute, 68% of applicant resumes are misleading. In 29% of fraud cases, the applicant provides a different diploma than the one held.

Diploma fraud is an increasingly common practice facilitated by digital technologies. Verifying the diplomas provided by applicants has become a key issue for companies to avoid serious recruitment mistakes. 

BCdiploma explains all about the challenges of diploma auditing.

What is diploma fraud?

iploma fraud has many faces. It can include:

  • Fake documents intended to imitate official diplomas;
  • Diplomas issued by fake universities (non-recognized institutions), called “diploma mills”;
  • Lying on the resume: mentioning a degree that was not obtained even though the studies in question were completed, an inaccurate degree name, a false equivalence with a foreign degree, etc.

Diploma fraud has been around much longer than the Internet. Imitations of official diplomas appeared as early as the invention of diplomas issued by the first university, Bologna in Italy, in the 12th century. As for the “diploma mills”, they already existed at the end of the 17th century. 

Today, and since the rise of digital technologies, many websites offer fake diplomas at reduced prices and anyone can forge a diploma with software like Photoshop. “Free fake diploma” is a common request typed on search engines on average 600 times per month in France! 

Lying on the resume is even normalized: according to the Florian Mantione Institute’s study, 85% of candidates say that fixing their resume is normal.

Given the extent of the situation, French legislation has implemented sanctions to discourage applicants from lying about their diplomas and to prosecute fraudsters.

Here is a history of the latest positions taken on these topics:

  • Since the Aubry law of 1992, the employer has the right and duty to verify the information presented on an applicant’s resume;
  • Case law no. 94-41.239 of 1995 authorizes recruiters to cancel hiring if the applicant has a fake diploma;
  • Forgery and use of forgeries are punishable by 3 years imprisonment and a fine of 45 000€;
  • In a 2005 speech, the Department of Justice explicitly stated that “the sale of university degrees is prohibited”.

Risks and consequences of diploma fraud

Diploma fraud is a scourge with real consequences for the many stakeholders involved in a hiring process.

For universities and other schools:

Falsified diplomas can damage the reputation of the school and even the entire education system. This discredits the real diplomas from the universities concerned in the hiring process. In addition, recruiters who are aware of diploma fraud must contact the training organizations in question or request official documents to ensure the authenticity of the diploma, which results in a very time-consuming administrative burden.

For the applicant:

Lying on a resume and falsifying a diploma is, by law, a criterion for the elimination of the applicant. In a Robert Half survey about lies on resumes, 47% of recruiters said they had already dismissed applicants whose resumes included lies. 53% of these lies were about diplomas!

If the lie has not been detected, once hired, the applicant faces the risk of lacking skills or knowledge related to the fake degree. In addition, if the lie is considered harmful to the company, the applicant who lied about the diploma faces dismissal for gross misconduct and legal action. As a reminder, forgery and use of forgeries are punishable by 3 years of imprisonment and a 45 000€ fine!

For recruiters:

Hiring applicants who have lied about their diploma is first and foremost a recruitment mistake that will most likely have an impacton the team’s productivity and the company’s performance, and therefore on its turnover. An applicant may engage in other unethical practices in the future. Also, the reputation and credibility of the company are at stake.

But beware: the employer is at fault if the information on the resume is not verified and the lie is detected after hiring! 

Fake resume

How do you set up the verification of an applicant’s diploma?

Checking that the applicant has obtained the diploma on the diplome.gouv.fr online service:

Diplome.gouv.fr is an initiative of the Ministry of National Education launched in 2016. This digital credential verifies the authenticity of the 2.1 million state diplomas issued in 2017. It allows you to check the completion of secondary school diplomas as well as higher education diplomas with a university degree (GCSEs (brevet), baccalaureate (baccalauréat), vocational qualification (CAP), advanced technician’s certificate (BTS)…) using a control key (an identifier). The key can be carried over to the resume for easy verification. However, this service does not cover all years according to the academies nor all types of diplomas.

Checking resume information and education during the hiring process:

In its flash n°58 of December 2019, the DGSI (General Directorate for Internal Security) recommends before the interview to make recruiters aware of the risk of fraud and to pay particular attention to the consistency and accuracy of the elements indicated on the resume. During the interview, the recruiter should ask for permission to contact the school and/or request copies of their diplomas. An interview based on a detailed presentation of the applicant’s background, skills and technical knowledge should also verify the authenticity of the applicant’s CV. 

Simplifying diploma verification: BCdiploma, the blockchain against diploma falsification

While diplome.gouv.fr can only identify certain diplomas such as the baccalaureate (baccalauréat) and the advanced technician’s certificate (BTS), other schools are taking steps to avoid fraud and are using the blockchain to digitally certify their diplomas! With BCdiploma and its blockchain, schools such as emlyon business school, the University of Lille, and Arts et Métiers Paristech are setting up a digital certification system for their diplomas: students send recruiters a secure link that allows them to access an official, tamper-proof online certificate in only one click.

BCdiploma offers schools the ability to secure students’ diplomas using blockchain and make them easily accessible to recruiters. With a secure URL link to a tamper-proof and verifiable diploma certificate, students can share their diploma certificate on their resume or Linkedin indefinitely. 

To see BCdiploma’s certified credentials and learn more about the company: click here.

 1- Study carried out on 100 candidates and 289 companies