There have always been desperate and/or unethical job hunters using a close relative or friend as a reference to increase the chances of landing a position. Providing a fake reference that will lie and speak glowingly about your applicant is nothing new; in fact, it’s an old and frequently used tactic. However, a new business has emerged that takes this practice an alarming step further.

Web sites that offer fake job reference services are available for any job seeker whose credentials and references don’t stand on their own. “That’s bad news for hiring managers,” states Cody Farzad, pre-employment background investigator for Employers Choice Screening.

Here is how it works: An applicant signs up, creates a company where they want you to think they worked, creates an imaginary job position, and chooses their own dates of employment and salary. If an employer calls the number provided, these sites literally impersonate falsified references and “cover” for the lies. This comes at a price, of course. There are several packages from which one can choose—two of which, we discovered, actually offer a “Live Receptionist” to take an employer’s (or background screening company’s) call and verify any and all falsified information previously provided by your applicant.

These corrupt sites are doing big business. One such service, (Careerexcuse.com), is no longer taking new clients because of an apparent overabundance of workload.

With this kind of deception available to anyone, companies checking backgrounds and references can no longer determine whether their applicants served as valuable employees in the past, or if they were, during the specified timeframes, actually serving as inmates in cell blocks.

Human resources departments need to realize these so-called “companies” are out there, enticing and preying on people’s growing desperation to land jobs. The current economic climate only makes matters worse for employers, as increased competition for available jobs means even more potential desperation. Because such records are not available anywhere, it is impossible to determine exactly how perevasive this threat has become, but it’s safe to assume it is growing rapidly. We know of few other industries, during this downturn in the economy, actually turning away new business because they don’t have the time to adequately serve new clients.

In fact, we found on the Internet other fraudulent, corrupt businessess that go beyond just employment background services, and even reference verifications. These verifications include fake landlord references, birth or other certificates, letters of recommendation, and even doctors’ notes.

It may be a wise investment to hire a competent investigation firm to conduct your reference verification. Leaving this chore to professionals who can identify, intercept and even prosecute fraud is often less expensive than hiring someone about whom you know nothing…except the lies they perpetrated upon you with false references.

Don’t be deceived. Hiring a reputable, professional background screening company such as Employers Choice Screening to screen your applicant will not only save you a lot of time and money in the long run, but will provide you with peace of mind that you are hiring the most honest and capable employees for your organization.