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Cifas research reveals sharp rise in employment application fraud by middle-aged job seekers

19 November 2019
  • Latest research shows application fraud up by nearly 40% amongst 41-50 year olds
  • Concealing adverse credit history was the most common type of employment application fraud (44%)

Research carried out by Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has revealed a sharp rise in employment application fraud by middle-aged jobseekers.

The research, released as part of the Cifas Faces of Fraud campaign, shows that there was an overall increase in application fraud across all age groups of 8% between January and September 2019, from 133 to 143 cases compared to the same period last year.

The majority of cases involved concealed adverse credit history (44%), with concealed employment history (12%) and concealed employment records (12%) also contributing to the rising number of job application fraud cases. Falsified references have also risen four-fold from just three to 17 since 2018.

Although the majority of the employment application fraud cases continued to be found amongst younger people, with 21-30 year olds making up the largest proportion at 41%, when it came to CV-related fraud, the research revealed a significant rise amongst older people. The number of 31-40 year olds involved in CV-related fraud over the last twelve months increased by 37%, and is marginally higher at 38% for 41-50 year olds.

The rise across older age groups points towards more fundamental motivations such as a tight labour market, with the latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics showing the number of job vacancies in the UK has been steadily declining since the beginning of 2019. In addition, the growth in divorce rates amongst 40-50 year olds may be fuelling a rise in middle-aged people returning to work, with some of these people tempted to embellish their CV as they re-enter the highly competitive job market.

However, the conduct in some cases of job application fraud remain purely criminal, with evidence gathered by Cifas suggesting a cottage industry of sorts is growing – i.e. websites offering fake degrees and essay writing services – which facilitates and profits from employment application fraud.

Case studies

Consultancy firm Huntswood told Cifas about a candidate who attempted to obscure an incident of gross misconduct with their previous employer which had involved them transferring company funds into their own account. The candidate was eventually apprehended and his details were uploaded to the Cifas Internal Fraud database which led to Huntswood terminating his application.

In another instance, building society Nationwide told Cifas about a candidate who had applied for a job, and later admitted paying £1,200 to a company to falsify their CV and attend phone interviews on their behalf. Nationwide said they had witnessed several such cases, especially from candidates seeking daily rate contract work.

Mike Haley, Chief Executive Officer of Cifas, said, ‘In today’s competitive job market, it is tempting to lie or exaggerate on an application form or CV, but jobseekers need to be aware of the enormous personal risks this type of fraudulent behaviour carries.

‘If you get caught making a fraudulent job application - regardless of whether you are offered the job or not - your details could be recorded on the Cifas Internal Fraud Database for six years. During this period, any job application you make could be searched against the database and potential employers made aware that you lied in previous job applications. At worst, you also risk facing a prison sentence, and so you need to ask yourself – is it worth the risk?’


For more information, please contact:

Corinne Gladstone
T: +44 (0)20 3004 3654

Notes to editors


The latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures for divorce rates across England & Wales shows that in 2017 the divorce rate for opposite-sex couples was highest among men aged 45-49 years and women aged 40-44 years. A full breakdown is available on the ONS website here.

About Cifas

Cifas exists to prevent fraud and financial crime. We are an independent, not-for-profit membership organisation that protects businesses and individuals through effective and secure data and intelligence sharing between the private, public and third sectors. In 2018, Cifas member organisations prevented over £1.4 billion of fraud losses.

Cifas data is included in the Office of National Statistics England and Wales Crime Statistics of police recorded crime and works alongside law enforcement agencies in tackling fraud. Cifas also offers Protective Registration for individuals whose identities are at risk of being used fraudulently. We also run a scheme called Protecting the Vulnerable, offered free of charge to local authorities to protect those under the care of Court Deputies who are unable to access financial products and whose identities may be at risk.


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Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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