Typically, my blogs are devoted to discussing compliance topics, covering emerging regulations, or highlighting best practices. But today, I’d like to share with our readers some of the true thrills of our job. At PreCheck, we identify ourselves as a “background investigations and credentialing firm.” Our tag line is “investigate further.” All of our employees are licensed private investigators. Hopefully you’ve identified the common denominator.
When something is amiss, we investigate. When information that comes across our desks appears questionable, we dig deeper. All that extra leg work doesn’t always result in a Sherlock Holmes moment, or it may not affect the outcome of what we report to our clients, but we try our very best to ensure the data we provide is accurate and paints a complete picture of the candidate. I thought it would pique readers’ interest to learn about some of the types of fraud and deception we encounter, and given the frequency at which we encounter them, it really does make sense for employers to use an investigations partner to help them learn about their candidates.
Like most employers and background screening firms that conduct education verifications, we occasionally confirm with schools that some applicants never graduated with a degree but only attended classes, contrary to what is indicated on their employment application. Beyond that, we sometimes uncover those creative and daring applicants who outright fabricate their degrees or even doctor up certificates, degrees, and diplomas that were originally awarded to a family member or an acquaintance. I guess they think we’ll never verify it with the actual issuing organization.
And on the topic of educational achievement, or the lack thereof, we can go on indefinitely on the topic of diploma mills. These faux education institutions are rampant. “Students” shop online for their desired degree, perform no actual academic work, simply pay a fee, and then they are sent the degree from a “school” that only has an online presence. Personally, I find the most amazing part of uncovering a diploma mill to be witnessing the applicant register complete surprise when they learn that their degrees are worthless. It’s hard to understand their feelings of victimization when absolutely no learning or education went into their obtaining of the so called “degree.”
Hiding a Criminal Past
I won’t go into the intricate details of some of the incidents of fraud and deception that we’ve discovered regarding criminal history, but I will share how some of it comes to light. Because PreCheck serves healthcare clients almost exclusively, it’s not unheard of for us to receive background check requests on one individual for several clients. What is interesting is when we witness one individual submitting different identifying information to various employers. From variations of the spelling of their name, to alias names, to different social security numbers, and different dates of birth, we’ve seen it all. Typically, the false ID details are given in hopes of hiding criminal history belonging to that applicant. Like my PreCheck colleagues, I myself am a licensed PI. I also used to manage the Public Records Department. Personally, that is one of the most gratifying discoveries for me—uncovering relevant criminal history that an applicant intentionally tries to hide from a prospective employer.
Licenses and Actions
Our investigations have sometimes led us to uncover multiple licenses awarded to an applicant from different states, licenses that they did not disclose on their employment application. While it’s favorable to possess multiple active licenses, in some cases, the applicant does not acknowledge them because there are current or past actions against those licenses, and the applicant wishes to conceal them. We’ve uncovered situations where nurses, physicians, or therapists have actions against a license in one state; they move to another state and are awarded a new license and then apply to a job where the employer has no knowledge of that previous license.
OIG Exclusion Screening
What’s in a name, you ask? Well, potentially everything if that name is on the government’s exclusion list. Our investigators have discovered sanctioned healthcare providers who’ve resorted to using their middle name as a first name as a means to skirt detection. We’ve also successfully identified a positive match of a sanctioned individual even when the OIG search tool indicated the name and SSN entered was not a match. Our investigator was highly suspicious as the name is very unique and was compelled to call the OIG directly. Our investigator learned that the social security number of our subject was not a match because one of the digits was transposed in their online system. As a result of the investigator’s tenacious investigations, the OIG made a correction to their records, and we successfully identified the sanctioned individual for our client.
I hope you enjoyed the little peek into some of our investigations activities. Obviously I can’t share the most intriguing parts, our actual investigations techniques and tools—our secret sauce if you will. Nor did I unveil the actual details about some of what we uncover. Let me conclude by simply stating, it’s true; truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.