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1 in 12 Brits have lied about qualifications on a CV

8 March 2022
  • 1 in 12 adults admit to lying about qualifications on their CV, with 1 in 6 of those aged 24 and under admitting to this fraudulent conduct; 
  • UK evenly split as to whether they would report a colleague they found out had lied; 
  • Organisations urged to ensure qualification verification checks are in place as part of the onboarding process. 

Research conducted by Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has discovered that 1 in 12 Brits have lied about qualifications on their CV. Shockingly, 1 in 6 aged 16-24 admitted to this fraudulent conduct, with 1 in 5 in this age group also seeing this as a ‘reasonable’ thing to do.

Consequences of lying about qualifications

More than 180 individuals were recorded to the Internal Fraud Database by Cifas members in the first nine months of 2021, including those recorded for submitting a false application to an organisation for employment.

Cifas’ Head of Fraud Intelligence, Amber Burridge, said: ‘Those applying for jobs during and after the pandemic may have been looking for ways to stand out from the crowd when submitting job applications. However, it unfortunately appears many individuals turned to lying about their qualifications on their CV to obtain a role.

‘Of those who admitted to lying about their qualification, half recognised this was an unreasonable thing to do, suggesting they believed the consequences of getting caught were worth the risk of lying. Not only could those submitting false applications see themselves being filed to Cifas’ Internal Fraud Database, which may make it more difficult for them to obtain a job in future, but they could also face criminal prosecution for doing so.’

Reporting colleagues

When asked an additional question as to whether they would report a colleague who had lied on their CV, respondents were equally divided between those would (32%), those who wouldn’t (35%) and those who were unsure (33%).

Cifas’ Insider Threat Manager, Tracey Carpenter, said: ‘It’s extremely important organisations have clear processes in place to allow staff to confidently report fraudulent conduct in the workplace, including colleagues that have acted dishonestly to obtain their role.

‘In some of the most extreme examples, individuals performing roles such as airline pilots or teachers have been sentenced to prison after being caught out by their lies. I am particularly concerned by the finding that those in the youngest age groups are the most likely to commit this offence, with those doing so potentially finishing their career before it’s even started.

‘Not only does a lie on a CV have potential impacts on the job applicant, but also poses a risk to the business, its customers, shareholders and staff. Organisations must ensure they are performing rigorous checks throughout the employee lifecycle to identify potential fraud risks.’

Notes to Editor

'Don't finish your career' flyer

Cifas has produced a flyer for institutions to use to highlight the potential consequences of lying on a CV, targeted at those leaving formal education. 

This flyer can be downloaded here.


The survey was carried out by Opinion Matters on behalf of Cifas with a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults between 4 – 8 October 2021. The research outlined ten scenarios of an individual committing first-party fraud. For this scenario, respondents were asked as to whether they, or someone they know, has lied on a CV, whether they thought this was a reasonable thing to do, and whether they'd report a colleague they found out had lied on a CV. 

Survey Results

When presented with a scenario of someone falsely claiming they had received a degree on their CV:

Question as to whether the respondent has been involved in this activity

N = 2000

‘Yes – I have done this’

56 (2.8% / 1 in 36)

‘Yes – myself and someone else I know have done this’

121 (6.1% / 1 in 17)


177 (8.9% / 1 in 12)


Question as to whether the respondent believed this was a reasonable thing to do

N = 2000

Net reasonable

257 (12.9% / 1 in 8)



Reasonableness Score

Net unreasonable


Net reasonable


I have done




Myself and someone I know have done





88 (49.7%)

43 (24.3%)

46 (26.0%)


Question as to whether the respondent would report a colleague

N = 2000

Net would

647 (32.4%)

Net would not

702 (35.1%)


651 (32.6%)


About Cifas

Cifas is the UK’s fraud prevention service. We lead the fight against fraud by sharing data, intelligence and learning. The organisations that collaborate with us are drawn from all sectors, working together to stop fraud.

About Opinion Matters

Opinion Matters is an independent market research agency that create bespoke market research solutions for businesses, organisations, and agencies worldwide. Opinion Matters abides by and employs members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

For more information, contact:

Matt Pearson
Press & Public Relations Manager, Cifas
T: +44 (0)20 4551 7956

Posted by: Cifas Press Team

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