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The legal implications of buying a fake job reference

Landing a new job can be challenging. In a competitive job market, employers look for applicants who check all the right boxes. Do you have the right education? Relevant experience? Good references?

But what if your last job didn’t well? Should you lose your chance at your dream job just because you didn’t get along with your last boss?

If you find yourself in this position, you may have considered signing up with a company such as CareerExcuse or Fake Reference Shop—which offer services for job seekers who find themselves in a pickle. Such companies will create fake job experience for you. They’ll create a fake website for a non-existent company and provide fake references for your non-existent position there.

To a job applicant who finds themselves between a rock and a hard place, such services may sound tempting. But what are the legal implications?

Is the company legal?

The business of falsifying job experience isn’t exactly ethical. But the legality of the practice falls under a bit of a legal gray area. A fake reference service provider could face serious legal consequences for falsifying applicant information for government employees or for life-and-death professionals, such as doctors or police officers. For other fields of employment, however, such companies are likely judgment-proof.

Are your actions legal?

The real consequences for providing fake job references fall on the employee. Most job applicants or new hires are required to sign a contract swearing that all of the information they provided in their application was truthful. If your employer discovers you lied, you could be fired. In addition, your employer could sue you for damages—including the salary they paid you and any training expenses. Beyond that, you could be charged with fraud in criminal court—which could end up on your permanent criminal record.

Hiring a fake reference provider comes with risks. You might land a new job without ever being found out. If the truth is discovered, though, you’re the one who will likely face real penalties.

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