Hiring fraud! The “talented” Mr. Ripleys who plagues India Inc

Executives at a medium-sized Bengaluru-based IT company wondered why the coder they had recently hired refused to participate in video calls. The project manager found this strange since the candidate had appeared in front of the camera during the interviews during his recruitment. When staff were called back to the office about two weeks ago, the manager met the new employee and realized that this was not the person who had shown up in the interviews.

“Now it is mandatory for a recruiter to take a screenshot during the video interview with the candidate. We have also started recording the interviews,” said a senior manager who was part of the team at computer company survey.

India Inc is grappling with identity theft – applicants hired during the pandemic are not those who show up for work. They even use video morphing and audio proxy tools, among others, to get jobs. The result: The employer spends weeks wondering why the recruit’s productivity is below normal and has to explain it to clients until the fraud is discovered.


“This is mostly happening in industries like IT, where people are hired en masse,” said Arpinder Singh, India and global market leader, Forensic and Integrity Services, EY. “The problem has grown dramatically with high attrition and the current culture of remote working due to Covid. The number of such identity theft cases I have encountered has doubled.”

The tech and retail industries are experiencing a hiring boom, and the turnaround time to fill vacancies is short, with almost no time for in-person interviews. “There is a lot of chaos. People with less skills get jobs they shouldn’t have,” Singh said.

Identity verification application

“Some get away with it. In more skilled jobs, the company understands that. You come in like a rock star, things turn out differently,” he said.

Identity verification company IDfy is introducing an app that will match the candidate’s face at the time of interview with their ID and then again at the time of enrollment.

“In large companies that are hiring en masse, almost all HR managers are worried,” said Ashok Hariharan, CEO of IDfy. “The chances of this happening in large organizations are even greater, given that the person who is the recruiter and the person who brings on (the new hire) are often different.”

Hariharan recounted the case of an IT company where the investigator was different from the manager. Once the person was reached, the manager realized over time that he did not have the required skills. The onboarding team then contacted the interviewer, who said they were a totally different person.

While repossession and background check scams took place before Covid, moonlighting became rampant as families struggled with their finances during the pandemic and working from home became the norm. With companies hiring again after nearly two years, identity theft using bots and artificial intelligence is on the rise.

Ironically, even fraud detection companies face this challenge when recruiting for their own ranks.

“During the pandemic, it became such a common problem that over the past year 20-30% of applicants had to be screened out because we realized that the person who showed up for interviews was not the one who sent the resume, ”said Dhiraj Gupta, CTO at MFilterIt, a fraud detection and prevention company.

His team is now responsible for asking specific questions of the candidate during the interview and recording the answers. When the person joins, the same queries are asked and the answers checked to see if they match.

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