There is an increase in the amount of fraudulent documents within the education environment say experts in the field of credentials verification. Stakeholders are now combining resources and expertise to help the market sift out fact from fiction in communication, specifically that which pertains to job seekers.
Managed Integrity Evaluation (Pty) Ltd. (MIE) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Ideco Group and established credentials verification provider in South Africa.
The company’s service portfolio includes the confirmation and verification of qualifications.
Based on the level of enquiries and rate at which fraudulent documents are being identified, specialists at MIE believe the issue is becoming more serious and must be addressed to curb the negative effect it has on the market at large and economy.
According to Ina van der Merwe, CEO at MIE, fraud is being detected within certificates, qualifications and many other ‘official’ documents used within the education environment and also as critical communication to secure employment.
Van der Merwe says the company has established an effective mechanism of qualification verification and control which is put into operation with the assistance of- and affiliation to the South African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS).
“Once we have written confirmation that a submitted certificate is fraudulent, we list that person with the Fraud Prevention Service. Sometimes it happens that someone falsified a certificate, but actually qualifies legitimately at a later stage. We then require a letter from the institution that the person originally faked a certificate from, to say that we may remove them from the SAFPS database. This is a negotiation between the institution and the candidate. Very often the institutions press fraud charges against the candidates using falsified documents, sometimes they take other steps,” says Van der Merwe.
MIE has initiated an awareness campaign to assist employers to identity fraudulent documents and take appropriate action.
A key component of this campaign is an information resource that lists specific attributes and signs that typify fraudulent documents.
These attributes should raise red flags says Van der Merwe and include fonts that do not match up, names that are out of line or that sound distorted, graduation dates that do not make sense or marks/symbols that have been altered.
“When it comes to certifications those who are reviewing documents must be alert to specific issues. These include checking as to whether certificate numbers match up with ID numbers, the fact that qualification dates and registration dates should be accurate and in order, as well as general discrepancies in fonts and spelling mistakes,” Van der Merwe adds.
According to MIE fraudsters are generally up to date with the latest technology and trends and are therefore able to produce documents that look authentic. These are of such quality that reviewers are warned to adopt a meticulous approach to any information reflected.
MIE has streamlined and refined this evaluation process to the extent that it can accurately differentiate between genuine mistakes and that which is done purposefully in order to manipulate or orchestrate situations.
Van der Merwe believes that whilst there is a long road ahead in terms of completely eliminating the issue of fraud, the fact that corporate South Africa is uniting with organisations and regulatory bodies to combat the issue bodes well for the immediate future.