Just when Adam Wheeler, the man convicted last year of fraud for lying his way into Harvard, thought it was safe to come out of the shadows, prosecutors in Middlesex, Massachusetts are asking that he serve his sentence as handed down by Superior Court Judge.
But, prosecutors aren’t just being petty, and they certainly couldn’t be accused of picking on Wheeler. Wheeler, originally ordered to serve 2 ½ years in jail, 10 years probation, pay restitution of more than $45,800, and to continue attending counseling for identity theft, resume lies, and other charges, appears to have forgone the lesson he learned (or should have learned) from his conviction in favor of the temptation of lying for profit once again.
Yes, Wheeler has taken the fraud route once again. He is an ideal model of why employment background checks are crucial.
Will Wheeler Ever Learn?
For those who don’t recall the story, Adam Wheeler, now 25, managed to weasel his way into Harvard by claiming to have had attended the prestigious Phillips Academy prep school in Andover and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Not one to fly under the radar to avoid detection, Wheeler, decided to shoot for Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships while at Harvard, citing co-authorship of several books, and by claiming to have taught numerous courses and lectures on what must have been an impressive application, with not your typical resume fraud. He was booted from Harvard in 2009.
With a never-give-up attitude, Wheeler dusted himself off and applied for admission to Stanford after his dismissal from Harvard. Stanford accepted Wheeler but also kicked him out after being alerted to his cons.
Caught Red Handed!
With a smile at his trial, Wheeler apologized to Harvard, his teachers, other students, and his friends. He also admitted to being “ashamed and embarrassed.” But, obviously, Wheeler wasn’t too embarrassed to give fraud another shot.
This enterprising young man now sits in jail awaiting a hearing in mid-November regarding the violation of his probation. So, did Wheeler, like so many other resume liars, stretch the truth a bit about his abilities or work history? Nope. Wheeler, in what can only be called an act of sheer arrogance, cited on a resume and in a cover letter that he attended Harvard University, a strict warning against which was issued as a condition of his probation.
It seems Wheeler lost his job over the summer and, in an effort to make his court-ordered restitution payments, he created resume lies to put himself in a better position than other applicants for the job. Just as he denied other students a position at Harvard, and then Stanford, Wheeler, once again, intended to deny someone more qualified than him the right to a position. This resume fraudster extraordinaire pulled out his pen and made some creative changes to his past.
The Lessons Wheeler Teaches
Wheeler may be a bit hard pressed to learn his own lessons, but he may serve as a shining example of why it’s important to tell the truth on a resume and, for employers, he highlights the need for performing a thorough pre-employment background check on each and every employee.
Potential employees lie. Not all of them, of course, but enough of them lie on job applications to warrant due diligence by employers. If Wheeler was the only individual to give resume fraud a shot, then employers wouldn’t have to look so intently for applicants who lie about a criminal past, tell tales about past employment, and present bogus educational credentials.
The reality for employers is this…
Resume lies aren’t going to magically go away. Because of this, it’s important for employers to protect themselves by partnering with a pre-employment screening agency with the experience to help employers protect themselves, and their employees, against the liability that can result from resume fraudsters.
Kevin Connell is Founder & CEO of AccuScreen.com www.accuscreen.com which has been providing pre-employment background checks on prospective and current employees since 1994. For additional Information & resources about Kevin Connell and AccuScreen’s services, please go to www.accuscreen.com or call AccuScreen.com (813)837-1920, Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM until 6:00 PM, Eastern Standard Time
Employment Background Investigations, Kevin Connell, will present a session at the HR Florida State Council Conference in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 11:45 am titled “Resume Fraud in Today’s Economy & Negligent Hiring”.
Join Kevin Connell to learn the types of resume fraud most common in today’s economy, as well as, the shocking cost of Employee Theft. Kevin will also present on Negligent Hiring and how HR professionals can reduce such risks.
Companies often hire potential candidates blindly and, unfortunately, pay unwelcome consequences. When hiring an employee based solely on what is indicated on their resume or job application, you are hiring considered to be hiring “blindly.” In other words, when you make your hiring decision, you are relying that the word of the job applicant is honest. Considering that up to 47% of applicants either lie or exaggerate on their resume or job application in one form or another, it is not recommended to make a hiring decision based only on what a candidate tells you.
Smart employers know that before they hire they need to verify all the information provided by an employee. This will help prevent problems down the road. They also understand that it is their duty to verify information to make sure they don’t become part of a “negligent hiring” lawsuit.
Screening an employee is one of the most cost effective ways to avoid hiring unfit or unethical employees. The cost of an employment background screen is relatively cheap and the results are easy to measure. When inconsistencies or lies are revealed during a background screen, an employer can readily see the benefits of the employee screening compared to the potential expenses that type of employee could cost their company in the long run.
Hiring a pre-employment background screening firm is easy and relatively affordable. While there are several firms available, it is important to hire a firm, such as AccuScreen.com that has the experience and resources to provide accurate and up to date information on potential employees.
There are many benefits of screening employees during the hiring stage. When an employer is pro-active in hiring employees and conducts an employee background screening they can help themselves avoid issues such as resume fraud, identity theft, employee theft, employees with criminal backgrounds and employees with substance abuse problems. These issues must be discussed in order to fully understand their impact on a company.
Resume fraud is a common issue that many employers cannot catch with a background check. This type of fraud can include minor embellishments all the way to flat out lies. Inflated titles, fake education and bogus degrees are all common exaggerations. Lies about education can happen from entry level to executive level positions. Recently, two senior level employees resigned from their positions at Radio Shack and MIT after it was discovered that they had lied about their educational background on their job applications.
Some unfit employees will also busy themselves in identity theft. They misuse their position in a company to gain confidential information for their own personal gain. For example, credit card and social security number theft is common and is a serious offence. This information is then used to purchase items and open fraudulent accounts. Employee theft is also common and usually involves the theft of property or cash, but can also include the removal or use of confidential or sensitive information such as intellectual property.
Applicants who have serious criminal backgrounds often avoid applying to companies that pre-screen employees. Some do take their chance and hope that their criminal background is not discovered. When conducting employee background checks it is best to include a criminal records search just in case. The last thing an employer and other employees need is a new employee with violent or dangerous tendencies. Similarly, companies often hope to identify substance abuse problems in potential employees before they are hired. Drug tests are sometimes mandatory in some organizations, but it is a good idea for all companies to include a drug test as part of the employee background screen. Unfortunately, many problems in the workplace are associated with substance abuse and can include absenteeism, theft, identity theft and violence. It is best to clear the air and identify these problems before a candidate is hired.
What’s the difference between an Administrative Assistant and a Personal Secretary? Not a lot. Because of the fine line between many job titles, job applicants may feel justified by creatively changing their past job titles to better mesh with a prospective employer’s needs. After all, they had the same job responsibilities, right?
There is a big difference between tailoring a resume to reflect how one’s experience highlights the responsibilities of the anticipated position and outright lying about the duties one performed at a prior job. Hiring managers and employers need to be aware of how potential employees often fail to recognize that difference and protect their own interests when hiring.
Most hiring managers have come to expect a certain amount of resume embellishment. But, there’s no excuse for accepting the practice. Anyone willing to lie on their resume is not likely to perform their responsibilities in an ethical manner. Lying, fabrications, and self-interest are not traits that magically end once a job offer has been extended. Employers should never accept anyone into the company that enters the door as the result of a lie. Employees that lack integrity eventually degrade the integrity of the company.
As long as resume fraud is prevalent – and it doesn’t show signs of abating – employers have to ensure that they protect their own interests by performing stringent resume checks. In addition to contacting previous employers, references, and managers, HR departments must develop a sound policy of background screening. All of these aspects combine to portray an accurate picture of each job candidate, thereby allowing hiring managers to make the most informed decision possible.
So, what’s the best advice employers can heed? Verify! Do your homework. You’ll be pleased with the results.
Tampa, Fl., August 19, 2010— In this Economic Crisis going on today we have seen an alarming record levels of employee fraud, information and property theft, easy access to fake credentials, and conflicts and violence in the workplace. Accordingly, Kevin Connell has organized a “Complimentary Webinar” for HR Managers, Business Owners and CEO’s of companies across North America. “Smoke, Mirrors and Fake Credentials” offers employers and HR professionals an opportunity to learn from and ask questions of two experts who have worked on the prevention of employee fraud for decades. The webinar will take place on Friday, August 20, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EDT.
Individuals can register for this free webinar at: http://www.accuscreen.com/media/webinars
Hosted by AccuScreen Inc., an industry pioneer, leader and expert in employment background screening, the webinar will feature founder and CEO Kevin Connell interviewing Barry Nixon, the executive director of the National Institute for Prevention of Workplace Violence, Inc., a company focused on assisting organizations to effectively implement programs to prevent workplace violence. Connell, also an expert on the subject background checks, promises a content-packed discussion.
The webinar will address the issue of employee fraud, resume fraud and diploma mills, the warning signs to look out for, and why no company no matter how large or small is immune. Most importantly, Connell and Nixon will speak about ways to prevent fraud from happening in the first place.
Adds CEO Connell of AccuScreen, “we will address not only why employee fraud has been on the rise, but also dispel the different myths and ways to prevent fraud.”
Connell and Nixon will reserve time on the webinar for questions. They encourage participants to bring questions that they may have about workplace violence.
About Accu-Screen Inc.
Since 1994, Accu-Screen, Inc. has been an industry pioneer, leader and expert in employment background screening, tenant screening, nanny screening and date screening, specializing in criminal background checks. Its reports are delivered to companies across the world with turnaround times from Instant to no more than 72 hours. CEO Kevin G. Connell founded the company with a burning desire that companies hire the right people from the start, resulting in greater cost control and better safety in the workplace. Mr. Connell served as a Founding Director of the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS), and he is a frequent Radio and Television Guest, appearing on ABC and Fox. Kevin also serves as a national speaker and expert in negligent hiring, resume fraud, employee theft, and embezzlement. Accu-Screen, Inc. is a C.A.U.S.E. Certified Background Screening Company.
About Kevin Connell
Kevin Connell has over 15 years experience as CEO & Founder of AccuScreen.com, a Global Background Screening Company, specializing in Criminal Background Checks. Mr. Connell was one of the founding Directors of the National Association of Background Screeners (www.napbs.com); he is an internationally-known expert on Background Checks, Occupational Fraud and Embezzlement, as well as a speaker, published author who has appeared on over 73 Television and Radio shows including Fox News and ABC’s Money Matters.
About Barry Nixon
W. Barry Nixon is the Executive Director of the National Institute for Prevention of Workplace Violence, Inc., a company focused on assisting organizations to effectively implement programs to prevent workplace violence. Having spent over twenty years in Human Resources and Organization Development in Fortune 500 companies. Mr. Nixon is well grounded in the real issues companies face and develops practical solutions based on having been there. Mr. Nixon is a frequently requested speaker both in the US and internationally on the subject of Workplace Violence and Background Screening.