Background Investigations: 5 Famous Frauds
Applied for a job lately? The forms authorizing background checks are everywhere — and for good reason. After some famous frauds have come to light, companies are hiring private detectives to complete an investigation of new hires, just to make sure that the applicants are who they say they are.
So who are some of these famous folks who defrauded their companies — and even the rest of the world.
1. Most well known, is Frank Abagnale, Jr., whose life story was the basis of the movie Catch Me If You Can, starring Leonardio DiCaprio. Abagnale impersonated a doctor, a pilot and lawyer, forging his credentials every time. He lived all over the country. He was sentenced to three prison terms, and now works with the FBI to stop fraud.
2. Another well known name is Kenneth Lay, the former CEO of Enron. Enron participated in multiple industries, including electricity, natural gas, pulp and paper companies and communications. Fortune magazine named Enron “America’s Most Innovative Company” for six years in a row. At its height, the company employed more than 20,000 people. That all ended in 2001, when the company’s stock collapsed, plunging from $90 a share to mere pennies. Fraudulent accounting practices were revealed in an investigation. Kenneth Lay sold more than $70 million of his own Enron stock right before the collapse. Kenneth Lay was convicted in 2006 on 10 counts of securities fraud. Kenneth Lay died of a heart attack before he served his prison sentence.
3. The former CEO of Bausch & Lomb, Ronald Zarrella, claimed that he held an MBA from New York University. He kept this on his official biography for more than 10 years. In actuality, he started the MBA program, but never finished. As part of his separation from Bausch & Lomb, he returned a $1.1 million bonus in January 2008.
4. The financial industry isn’t the only place people have defrauded their employers, only to rise to the top of the organization. In 1999, The Wall Street Journal revealed after a few background checks that the CEO and President of Lotus Corporation, Jeff Papows had lied about his PhD from Pepperdine University. He had also claimed to be a captain in the military. His record, however, revealed that he was a lieutenant. He resigned from Lotus.
5. The internet isn’t all about computer hardware, software and other technologies. Online shopping includes more than just the big box stores. In 2005, Etsy entered the world of e-commerce. A visionary site, Etsy.com features handmade and vintage items for sale. The site allows local artists and craftsmen to feature products in an affordable environment. Etsy was co-founded by Rob Kalin, the now former chief executive officer. He stepped down after it was revealed that he had forged some of his credentials so he could attend design classes at MIT. He attended Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts program solely on the strength of a portfolio. Kalin has earned a degree from New York University in the Classics.
It’s all too easy to list a school and a degree on a resume, no matter whether it was earned or not. No wonder companies are using Phoenix private detectives to conduct background investigations before making hiring decisions.
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