Mumbai: The growing demand for experienced staff has spawned a new kind of Indian industry: firms that dole out fake experience certificates.
Investigations by at least two separate employee background verification firms in India have revealed the existence of 150-250 such firms, often masquerading as information technology (IT) companies.
Says auditor and consulting firm KPMG India’s executive director Rohit Mahajan: “There are some kind of set-ups that issue fraudulent experience certificates. We have identified almost 150 firms that are fictitious companies.”
“During our background verification process for clients over the past one year, we found 250 firms that fake experience letters, salary slips and relieving letters to candidates,” added Abhay Aggarwal, chief executive of Integrity Verification Services Pvt. Ltd, a Mumbai-based firm that conducts pre-employment background verification.
Aggarwal said his firm has found the extent of false information in resumes typically ranges from 23% to 25% and, in most cases, the misinformation is regarding education and past employment.
“Industry-wise, the IT sector is worst hit followed by the logistics and financial sectors. We have found that one out of every four resumes is exaggerated,” he said.
Integrity’s list included Instance Software Solutions, Tech Waves Info Solution and Alpha Data in Bangalore and JVS Infotech Pvt. Ltdin Hyderabad. The Integrity list also features Crest Consultancy, a New Delhi-based recruitment firm.
These companies cited by Integrity either denied the charges, declined to comment or couldn’t be reached.
“No one in the management level is available to comment on the matter until next week,” said Kishore, who gave only one name and said he was a cost accountant at JVS Infotech in Hyderabad.
Thomas George, a human resource executive at Instance Software Solutions, denied the Integrity charges. “We do not issue fake certificates to candidates,” he insisted.
Crest Consultancy’s Delhi area head Robin Anthony refused to comment on queries from Mint, while Alpha Data and Tech Waves couldn’t immediately be reached for comment. Mint could not independently verify whether the companies on Integrity’s list had indeed issued fake certificates or not.
Mint also got in touch with at least one person who said he had approached a broker, through the Internet, in January for a job at Dell India Pvt. Ltd as a technical support executive with a monthly pay package of Rs15,000.
Syed, who agreed to be identified only by his first name, said he did not have any experience in working at an international call centre, a requirement for that position but, said that the broker promised to provide an “experience” certificate.
“The tout promised to get me an experience certificate along with salary slips for three consecutive months and a relieving letter. But, he asked for Rs1 lakh for the service,” claimed Syed.
The deal fell through because Syed said he could not afford the price. He now works in an industrial unit in Hyderabad. Mint couldn’t independently ascertain Syed’s claims.
On 5 March, Mint reported that many Indian background verification companies were coming together to form the Indian Association of Professional Background Screeners to tackle issues such as the legitimacy of background screening firms, protecting the interests of both candidates and clients and establishing best practices.
“Predominantly in the IT sector instances of fudging data are high,” said Sampath Shetty, vice-president of Team Lease Services Pvt. Ltd, a staffing company that provides temporary and permanent manpower. “We have often seen that 10% of the candidates who are selected have invariably fudged the data. So it is imperative for us to do background screening for all our employees and client employees.”
National Association of Software and Service Companies (Nasscom), an industry body for technology companies, too got into the act after a spate of data thefts in the IT sector.
In 2006, Nasscom launched the National Skills Registry (NSR), an online central registry system on employees for IT and business process outsourcing professionals in India.
However, while Nasscom aimed to register 500,000 employees by March 2008, there were only 160,000 registrations by 36 companies through December.
“Unfortunately, the Nasscom initiative has not been significantly successful,” notes KPMG’s Mahajan. “Companies are more worried about employee information leakage. It will be some time before the companies realize the benefits of a centralised database.”