In a tough job market like this people will do almost anything to get a job. But faking an entire resume and work history? Complete with our own website and phony Twitter followers? That's the big new... See More
In a tough job market like this people will do almost anything to get a job. But faking an entire resume and work history? Complete with our own website and phony Twitter followers? That's the big new job market whose slogan might as well be, no credentials, no problem. Here's Deborah Roberts. Reporter: Andrea Stanfield was living the dream in Tampa, Florida. A six-figure paycheck, a big house, expensive clothes. We had a boat, jet skis, Rolex watches, the whole nine yards. Reporter: Truthfully, life was great. Except for a small detail. It was all built on a lie. I got more and more anxious that I would be caught. I was just lying to everyone. Reporter: Her big lie began when she decided to apply for a stockbroker position. The job required a college degree, which Andrea didn't have. So, she simply made up a business administration degree from Akron university. She landed the job and quickly moved from one big position to another. So, then you must've been emboldened after that? Yeah, it was like they don't even care. Reporter: Andrea's career was soaring on phony credentials which apparently millions of us do. By some estimates half of all resumes contain a lie. These dpas it's an art form. Need a college degree you? Can buy it online, complete with transcri transcripts. How about 40 bucks for thousands of phony Twitter followers? With the access to the internet applicants out there can easily create whatever resume they'd like. Reporter: The alarming rise in faked credentials has led some companies to turn to private eyes like Mario Pecoraro to sniff out those phonies. Most companies don't use P.I. Agencies like his but he's the gold standard for those who want to screen out the fakes. Have you met someone yet who's been able to fake you out pretty well? Not so far. There are a number of good fakes out there, and we make it our business to catch them every time. Reporter: But if he's the big cat in the land of resume fakes, we've found the clever mouse. His name is William Schmidt, a surfer-looking dude in Columbus, Ohio, riding the waves of desperate job seekers willing to pay for phony credentials. This is my global corporate headquarters. Reporter: In his flip-flops and shorts, from his cramped sunroom, Schmidt operates the creme de la creme of fake resume sites called careerexcusedotcom. For $125, he'll sell you a phony job history with a gleaming web page of your fake company complete with a phone number and address, just waiting to be googled by a prospective employer. You'll see that it is on Google maps. So again, it brings more realism to our virtual company. This is pretty clever. Reporter: A factory worker, Schmidt juggles his real job with his virtual one, helping scores of people who lost jobs during the recession and feel stigmatized after being out of work for so long. They're just totally desperate. They want to fill in a gap on their resume. What's your track record like? I would say half of my subscribers will get a job probably within 30 days. Reporter: He says he's motivated by the high fives he gets from grateful clients who have been offered jobs and thank him for kwour service. But you're creating a site that really, is basically dishonest. It's like a poker player. A lot of times, he's going to have to bluff and that's what job seekers are needing to do nowadays to land a job. Reporter: So, we decided to call his bluff. Could a small town mouse slip past the claws of a big cat like Pecoraro? To find out we hit the job market, applying for actual positions at companies that work with Pecoraro's firm, like a sales manager job at this beer distribution firm in saratoga springs, New York. Our applicant, "20/20" staffer Sarah Lang, has zero experience in the alcohol industry. So, Sarah jumps online with Schmidt to fake up a job history. Within two days, he comes up with this slick-looking website for the "Oyster island brewery." It includes an address and phone number in case someone decides to check up on Sarah. And he's added a position as marketing associate at the brewery to her resume. Next, we raise the stakes and apply for a vice president of marketing and communications job at this I.T. Company in Clifton park, New York. Our applicant, "20/20" producer Michael, who's clueless about marketing. So he goes online, paying $500 for an mba degree from the unaccredited "Ashley university." Then Schmidt gives Michael marketing experience, creating jobs at two fake companies one as product manager at "Performa marketing" and a current job as marketing director at "Altman research." And one last thing that couldn't hurt, Michael springs for more than 2500 of those phony Twitter followers. We submit both phony resumes through the companies' websites to see if they'll catch our fakes. Schmidt boasts he's rarely been caught because few companies thoroughly check resumes and job references. They're very boilerplate. They question nothing. Reporter: At the end of the day, you're lying. And you're helping people lie. But, you see, that moral question has to reside within the person who's subscribing to my services. Reporter: Which brings us back to our fake job applicants. Over 100 people applied to the two positions, the me promising resumes, including ours, landing here in front of Pecoraro's investigators. They don't know who our ringers are, but they find plenty of other fakes, including a guy with a phony degree and another who lied about two of his past jobs. Then they're on to us, beginning with Michael's fgre deee. One at Ashley university, which we found to be a diploma mill. So, that one was pretty easy. Reporter: But what about those elaborate websites Schmidt created. Pretty impressive website. With their sposedly real addresses, phone Numbers and operators? The phone number associated with the website came back to a generic service, with no direct response. And we went one step further and identified the address of oyster island brewery to actually be a Dunkin' donuts. So, much for that one. Reporter: But we did manage to sneak one thing past Pecararo those 2500 phony Twitter followers. Wow, you smoked us out, huh? But we got you on the Twitter followers. You got us on the Twitter followers. Reporter: So, what went wrong? We Skyped with Schmidt. We got caught. What happened? How many people really make the effort to check if every single company that people put on their resume is real? The majority, it doesn't happen. Anyone who uses a fake reference service is taking a gamble. Reporter: In the end, resume faker Andrea Stanfield says living a lie isn't worth it. Her career and marriage are history after she came clean, fearing she'd be fired. Today Andrea is about to enter nursing school, determined to find a new career the old fashioned way earning it. I'm finally going to take the long road and I'm going to do the right thing and not have to lie about anything. So, that's gonna be fantastic. Good for Andrea for admitting to it and shining a spotlight on it. Do you think you ever lost a job to someone who lied on their resume? Tweet us at #abc2020. Before you kick off the
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