Recruitment Fraud and how to avoid it

Group of office workers around a desk viewed from above


Recruitment /hiring fraud is a growing issue in the UK and has the potential to impact both employers and job seekers. This guide looks at different types of fraud and how you can safeguard yourself.

What is hiring fraud?

Hiring fraud encompasses any fraudulent activity within the recruitment process. It can be perpetrated by:

  • individuals applying for a job at your company
  • existing employees within your organisation
  • anyone misusing your company name and reputation for fraudulent purposes.

Individuals who commit fraud might be working alone, but it’s also possible they are being exploited by external agencies looking to make money out of them.

Either way, the consequences can be severe, including financial loss, damage to your reputation, data breaches and safety risks.

The first step in protecting yourself is to recognise how fraud can occur. Once you’ve spotted a potential vulnerability, you can take measures to safeguard your organisation.

Fraudulent applicants

Everyone wants to impress with their CV but, as an employer, how can you be sure you’re not being misled or even lied to and deliberately targeted? Here are some suggestions:

  • Promote a culture of vigilance within your hiring team.
  • Encourage everyone to question anomalies and train hiring staff to identify red flags for different types of fraud. If something sounds too good to be true or even just a bit ‘off’, encourage staff to dig deeper.
  • Consider using pre-employment screening providers with advanced fraud-detection capabilities.
  • Make sure your onboarding technology allows for IP address lookups and AI fraud detection.

Fake references

Be sure to follow up diligently on references supplied by candidates. There are organisations that exist specifically to supply and even verify fake references, so obtain independent verification of employment history where necessary (e.g. through government sources or third-party services).

You can use the British Hiring Institute guide to help you identify fake references and name changes.

Don’t forget to use digital right-to-work checks where applicable.

Fake qualifications

Always check the authenticity of higher education credentials. Invest in training to help spot signs of fake certificates, and consider outsourcing to specialists if you have any doubts.

You can also use machine learning and AI-based document analysis to help you verify credentials.

Fabricated CVs

All CVs are designed to impress and while some might contain exaggerations, they should never include outright lies. Train your team to identify red flags:

  • Watch out for inconsistencies, missing information, dates that don’t tally and other suspicious details on a candidate CV.
  • Carefully check qualifications and references – if in doubt, ask for proof.
  • Where necessary, verify employment history through government sources or authorised data providers.

Sometimes, asking the right questions in an interview can uncover a fabrication, but other times you’ll need to dig a little deeper. Either way, remember that someone who fakes their CV is unlikely to make a loyal or trustworthy employee.

Misuse of AI

More and more candidates are using AI tools to generate their applications – and, in many cases, to generate multiple applications at a time. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with this but it’s more important than ever to check an individual’s real potential and suitability for a role.

  • Where possible, meet interviewees face to face, to minimise the possibility of AI assistance during the interview process.
  • Competency-based interviews will give you a genuine insight into how capable an individual is.
  • Use AI fraud detection to spot where AI may have been used to deliberately mislead.

Fraud involving a side hustle or second job

The side hustle, whereby an employee runs a separate business or has a second job in addition to their main employment, has become more common since the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. Many businesses are relatively supportive of the idea – as long as the side hustle doesn’t interfere with their employee’s performance during working hours.

Problems arise when there is a conflict of interest, or when the employee compromises their main job for the sake of secondary employment.

Honesty and openness about mutual expectations is the best approach

  • Make your terms of employment clear in your employee contracts.
  • Raise the issue during the hiring process.
  • If you suspect an employee hasn’t been honest, or is defrauding you of time or resources, monitor their performance for delays, errors or inconsistencies.

Immigration fraud

There are several ways to check a candidate’s right to work in the UK:

  • Conduct a digital right-to-work check using ‘Identity Document Validation Technology’ (IDVT) via an ‘Identity Service Provider’ (IDSP). If you outsource these checks, use a reputable provider.
  • Use online/share code checks or manual/in-person checks.
  • Head to the government’s website for advice.
  • Invest in training to help your team identify fake documents and photographs.

Employment scams

While you should be alert to fraud on the part of candidates, sadly job hunters can also find themselves on the receiving end of fraudulent activity. It’s even possible that your own organisation’s name will be implicated in a scam, through no fault of your own. Not all job adverts can be trusted.

So how do you signal that you are a legitimate employer and avoid reputational damage?

Start by publishing a statement on your website outlining how your organisation does and does not communicate with potential candidates. Advise your potential candidates to look out for:

  • Unexpected contact from your organisation
  • Contact from unknown emails or phone numbers
  • Links to external websites
  • Unrealistic offers in terms of salary, perks or working arrangements
  • Badly written job adverts in your name
  • Requests for payments of any kind, including cryptocurrency payments, for any services, checks or training, prior to taking up employment.


A robust and ethical hiring process not only protects your organisation’s resources but also ensures only qualified and trustworthy individuals are brought on board. Trends in hiring fraud will come and go, but by prioritising a secure hiring environment, you can build a stronger, more successful organisation.