Economic crime remains a major problem

Failure by public and private sector to verify qualifications have serious consequences

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The failure by both the private sector and government to do qualifications verification checks could have dire consequences resulting in unqualified workers being appointed to positions for which they lacked the necessary skills.

Louis Strydom, who heads up the forensic services division at PWC said it was hugely important for all employers to a to do a thorough background check on all prospective employees as part of taking pro-active measures to prevent fraud.

In the latest PWC Global economic crime survey 2014, 69% of South African respondents from all sectors of the economy indicated that they had been subjected to some form of economic crime in the 24 months preceding the survey.

“Economic crime remains a major problem and fraud, including qualifications fraud, remains a major issue for both the private and the public sector,” Strydom said.

“Business leaders are not serious about verifying qualifications and often do only very superficial checks. The problem is widespread and it is affecting the country as a whole,” he said.

Danie Strydom, CEO of one of South Africa’s largest qualifications verification companies, QVS, said many employers were far too lax when it came to checking the qualifications and other background information on potential and serving employees.

“There have been several high profile cases recently where high level employees were found to have been in possession of fraudulent qualifications which meant that they were unable to perform their tasks properly.”

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

He said there was as not yet an awareness of just how easy it was to buy fake degrees and diplomas that look exactly like the real thing. In some cases there is even a verification service where someone will answer a telephone at the number indicated on the degree or diploma to verify that the holder was indeed the person who tendered the document.”

Danie Strydom said on average about 13% of all degrees and diplomas verified by his company turned out to be “problematic” to a lesser or greater degree.

He warned the business community against employing anyone without verifying their qualifications. He said there was a lack of awareness by especially small and medium enterprises about just how vulnerable they were.

“Most corporates have dedicated human resources departments who as a matter of course do background checks. Smaller companies are often not prepared to spend the modest amount of money to do proper comprehensive checks on new employees.

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