Faking Job References for a Price

Photo: Websites provides fake employment references for job applicants

William Schmidt fabricates job references for a price. And he feels good about it.

"At least I know I was able to help someone get a paycheck and provide for himself and his family," the Ohio man told ABCNews.com.

Schmidt, 46, is the founder of CareerExcuse.com, a Web site that says it can fill in gaps on your resume by pledging to "act as your past employer" and provide job references, complete with working phone numbers and people on the other end of each line ready to answer questions posed by prospective employers.

Schmidt, who started the Web site after being laid off from his job as a human resource manager in February, said he got the idea after perusing posts on the micro-blogging site Twitter. He was surprised, he said, by how many Twitter users were asking strangers for job references.

"I saw tons of them when I searched it," he said. "That's where I saw the need for my service."

Schmidt said that while some may have "moral issues" with his company, he feels good about what he does. He said he, along with a part-time partner who helps him answer phones, have helped at least 20 people successfully secure work.

"Many people have told me right now that looking for a job is like fighting a war," he said. "There is a great feeling when I get people who call me back and send me an e-mail, saying hey, they got hired, they got the job."

Bad Economy Creates Job Reference Market

While it's hard to verify whether Schmidt's service -- which charges customers $64 per year after a three-day free trial -- has actually benefited anyone, he's not the only one claiming to help people lie to secure work in a tough economy. The Web site Alibi HQ also advertises fake job reference services.

A man identifying himself as Mark Stevens, an Alibi HQ spokesman, told ABCNews.com that the company, which also offers fake landlord references and fake doctor's notes, has been operating for several years. He said customer interest in employment references skyrocketed over the last year, with calls from people seeking Alibi HQ's services quadrupling -- a trend Stevens attributed to the increase in job seekers left unemployed by the recession.

"We have an abundance of incoming phone calls and every month, it's surpassed the month before," he said.

'Fibbing' Within the Bounds of the Law?

As with CareerExcuse.com, it's unclear whether Alibi HQ delivers what it advertises. Several links on the company's Web site are inactive, and Stevens would not specify where the company is based -- he would only say it is headquartered on the East Coast. Divulging the company's exact location, he said, would present a security risk.

Here's how Alibi HQ says its service works: It sets up a working phone number for a "fictitious" company that it passes on to a job applicant. When a prospective employer calls the number, one of more than 20 Alibi HQ staffers answers the phone and "confirms" that the applicant used to work there.

For this service, Alibi HQ charges a $199 fee for the first 90 days and $50 for each additional month.

Stevens conceded that the company's work is based on "fibbing," but said that Alibi HQ is careful to avoid doing anything that runs afoul of the law. For instance, he said, Alibi HQ staffers never claim to represent companies in existence today, like, say AT&T or Exxon, and the company does not provide employment references for mortgage refinance applications.

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