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Could you be sent to prison for lying on your CV?

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Job applicants are warned that lying on a CV is illegal and they could face a prison sentence as cases surge.

One in five people have themselves or know of someone who has lied about a qualification on their CV in the past 12 months.

This is up from the one in six in 2021, according to fraud prevention service, Cifas.

It said the upsurge in CV fraud is particularly prevalent among those aged 16-24, with 38% having lied or knowing someone who had.

Those aged 35 to 44 had the second highest number, with almost a third saying the same.

Meanwhile, its data also showed that in the first nine months of 2022, supplying false references rose by 476%.

Cifas warned that making a fraudulent job application is illegal, whether someone is offered a job or not.

They could be added to the Cifas Internal Fraud Database for six years which means any further job application could be searched with potential employers notified about lies in previous job applications.

“At worst, they could also risk facing a prison sentence”, Cifas added.

It comes as while the UK has suffered a labour shortage despite a record number of vacancies, this is now falling.

As the job market cools, competition for existing vacancies is rising, according to the Office for National Statistics, which Cifas said increase the likelihood of CV fraud.

“As candidates compete for fewer positions, qualifications, alongside relevant experience may take on more significance for employers”, it said.

‘Serious consequences’

The firm’s insider threat manager, Tracey Carpenter, said: “Whilst it may seem like a harmless exaggeration, there are very serious consequences associated with CV fraud, which can open up a gateway to other types of offences including bribery and employee theft.

“Employees who commit CV fraud can be vulnerable to blackmail or extortion from criminals eager to gain access to a company’s sensitive information in order to steal funds or commit further fraud. It also unfairly edges out those candidates who otherwise may have been more suited for the role.

“Recent case law makes it clear that individuals who commit CV fraud can be taken to court and made to pay damages for unjust enrichment for the money earned through the employment period. They also run the risk of being added to the Internal Fraud Database, which can severely hinder their future employment prospects. It may be tempting to stretch the truth on a CV but it’s rarely worth it in the long run”.