Rise in diploma fraud in Singapore and its impact on employers

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Including misleading information on a CV is nothing new. But while some candidates may exaggerate their responsibilities in a previous role, or cover up any gaps in unemployment, it’s easy for a so-called ‘white lie’ to quickly get out of hand.

Inflating academic achievements might not seem that serious - but if the role rests on your having a certain qualification, then it’s no longer in ‘white lie’ territory, this is now classed as fraud. 

In recent years, Singapore has witnessed an alarming rise in diploma fraud, with paper mills in and outside of the country pumping out fake certification for a small fee. With more individuals resorting to bogus degrees and fraudulent qualifications to secure employment, employers face the daunting task of ensuring they hire genuinely qualified candidates. 

This blog aims to explore the various facets of diploma fraud in Singapore, shedding light on its impact on employers and providing practical guidance on how to navigate this growing issue.

In the following sections, we will delve into the reasons behind the surge in diploma fraud, discuss its consequences for employers, and outline ways to detect and prevent fraudulent qualifications. 

By understanding the implications of diploma fraud and taking proactive measures to combat it, employers can protect their businesses and contribute to a more transparent and trustworthy job market in Singapore.

Understanding diploma fraud

Diploma fraud refers to the act of using fake or altered academic credentials to deceive employers or other parties. This may involve falsifying documents, misrepresenting one's qualifications, or purchasing counterfeit degrees from diploma mills. Diploma mills are unaccredited or illegitimate institutions that issue fraudulent diplomas or certificates for a fee, often without requiring any substantial coursework or academic effort from the recipient.

There are several ways in which individuals may engage in diploma fraud, including:

  1. Creating counterfeit diplomas using sophisticated design and printing techniques.
  2. Altering genuine diplomas to modify the degree type, field of study, or grades.
  3. Purchasing fraudulent degrees from diploma mills, either online or through brokers.
  4. Claiming unearned credentials or academic achievements on resumes or in interviews.
  5. Using someone else's diploma or academic records to pose as a qualified candidate.

Reasons behind the rise of diploma fraud in Singapore

The increase in diploma fraud in Singapore can be attributed to a combination of factors, such as:

  • Intense competition in the job market: As the demand for highly qualified professionals grows, some individuals may resort to fraudulent means to gain an advantage over their peers.
  • Technological advancements: The availability of sophisticated design and printing tools has made it easier to create and distribute counterfeit diplomas that are difficult to distinguish from genuine documents.
  • Globalization and online education: The proliferation of international and online educational institutions has made it challenging for employers to verify the authenticity of academic credentials, creating opportunities for fraudsters.
  • Limited awareness and legal enforcement: Insufficient awareness among employers about the risks of diploma fraud, coupled with inadequate legal enforcement, may contribute to the perceived ease of getting away with fraudulent qualifications.

Understanding the nature and reasons behind diploma fraud is crucial for employers to effectively identify and address this growing issue in Singapore's job market.

Impact on Employers

The rise of diploma fraud in Singapore has far-reaching implications for employers, affecting their businesses in several ways:

Consequences of hiring employees with fraudulent qualifications

  • Legal implications: Employers may face legal consequences if they knowingly or unknowingly hire individuals with fake credentials. This could result in fines, penalties, and potential lawsuits.
  • Financial costs: Hiring unqualified employees can lead to decreased productivity, costly errors, and potential loss of business. Additionally, employers may need to spend resources on rehiring and retraining new employees to replace those with fraudulent qualifications.
  • Reputational damage: Companies that hire individuals with fake degrees may suffer reputational harm, affecting their ability to attract top talent and potentially leading to a loss of clients or customers who value integrity and trustworthiness.

The effect on workplace productivity and employee morale

Hiring individuals with fraudulent qualifications can disrupt the work environment, as these employees may lack the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their jobs effectively. This can lead to reduced productivity, lower employee morale, and increased turnover, as competent employees may become frustrated or demotivated by working alongside unqualified colleagues.

The influence on the overall job market and economy

The rise of diploma fraud not only affects individual employers but also has a broader impact on Singapore's job market and economy. When unqualified individuals secure jobs through fraudulent means, it undermines the value of genuine qualifications and erodes trust in the education system. Furthermore, it may discourage potential investors and businesses from entering the market, as they may question the overall quality and reliability of the workforce.

In summary, the growing prevalence of diploma fraud in Singapore poses significant challenges for employers, impacting their businesses on multiple levels. By understanding these implications, employers can take proactive measures to address the issue and safeguard the integrity of their workforce.

Strategies for detecting diploma fraud

Employers can take several steps to identify and prevent diploma fraud in the hiring process. Implementing the following strategies can help ensure that they recruit genuinely qualified candidates:

Importance of thorough background checks

Conducting comprehensive background checks on potential employees is crucial in detecting fraudulent qualifications. This process should include verifying employment history, contacting references, and confirming the candidate's educational background.

Verification of academic credentials

  1. Contacting educational institutions: Employers should contact the educational institutions listed on a candidate's resume to verify the authenticity of their credentials. They can request transcripts, diploma copies, or other official documents to ensure the candidate's qualifications are genuine.
  2. Using third-party verification services: Employers may also choose to use professional verification services to confirm a candidate's academic background. These services can streamline the process, especially when dealing with international or online educational institutions.

Recognizing red flags and warning signs of fraudulent qualifications

Employers should be vigilant in spotting potential red flags that could indicate diploma fraud, such as:

  • Inconsistencies in the candidate's resume or during interviews, such as gaps in their education or employment history.
  • Degrees from unaccredited or unrecognized institutions, which may be diploma mills.
  • Diplomas or transcripts with signs of alteration, such as mismatched fonts, inconsistent formatting, or incorrect logos.
  • Lack of knowledge or skills in the candidate's purported field of study, which may become evident during technical interviews or skills assessments.

By implementing these strategies, employers can enhance their ability to detect diploma fraud and ensure they hire only genuinely qualified candidates. This not only protects their businesses but also contributes to a more transparent and trustworthy job market in Singapore.

Prevention and mitigation measures

In addition to detecting diploma fraud, employers can take proactive steps to prevent and mitigate the risks associated with fraudulent qualifications. The following measures can help create a secure hiring environment and maintain a qualified workforce:

Strengthening internal HR policies and procedures

Developing and enforcing stringent HR policies can help deter potential fraudsters from applying for positions within the company. This may include clearly stating the consequences of providing false information during the hiring process and conducting periodic audits of employee records to ensure compliance.

Collaborating with educational institutions and industry associations

Employers can work closely with educational institutions and industry associations to establish best practices for verifying academic credentials and sharing information about known diploma mills or fraudulent qualifications. This collaborative approach can help create a more robust system for identifying and combating diploma fraud in the job market.

Supporting government initiatives to combat diploma fraud

Employers should actively support and engage with government initiatives aimed at tackling diploma fraud, such as public awareness campaigns, legal reforms, and partnerships with international organizations. By joining forces with the government, employers can contribute to the creation of a more secure and transparent job market in Singapore.

Investing in employee training and development

By investing in the ongoing training and development of their workforce, employers can reduce the appeal of fraudulent qualifications and ensure that their employees possess the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles. This not only helps maintain a qualified workforce but also fosters a culture of continuous learning and professional growth.

Use an accredited background screening company to verify academic credentials

In Singapore, employers are required to secure an Employment Pass (EP) from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for any foreign workers they intend to hire. Beginning in September 2023, all new EP applications will necessitate third-party verification to validate the authenticity of a candidate's diploma-level qualifications or higher, along with evidence of their educational institution's accreditation. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has chosen Veremark as a trusted background screening company authorized to provide verification proof in Singapore. By utilizing Veremark's MOM Education Verification Package, employers can guarantee adherence to MOM regulations, which is essential for recruiting skilled and dependable foreign workers.

Veremark's role in the Employment Pass verification process

As an accredited background screening company, Veremark plays a crucial role in assisting employers in obtaining the required verification proof for their foreign workers' diploma-level qualifications and above, as well as the accreditation of their educational institutions. Through their comprehensive MOM Education Verification Package, Veremark helps employers ensure compliance with MOM regulations, which is essential in hiring qualified and reliable foreign workers.

By implementing these prevention and mitigation measures, employers can protect their businesses from the risks associated with diploma fraud and contribute to the overall integrity of Singapore's job market. This, in turn, helps maintain a competitive and trustworthy business environment that benefits both employers and employees.

Legal consequences and actions against diploma fraud

As diploma fraud poses a significant threat to employers and the integrity of Singapore's job market, it is essential to understand the legal framework in place to combat this issue and hold those responsible accountable.

Singapore's legal framework to combat diploma fraud

Singapore has implemented a number of laws and regulations aimed at addressing diploma fraud, including:

  • The Penal Code: Under Section 468 of the Penal Code, those found guilty of forgery or falsification of documents with the intent to deceive can face imprisonment, fines, or both.
  • The Private Education Act: This act governs the registration and operation of private educational institutions in Singapore. It includes provisions for the enforcement of strict standards, penalties for non-compliance, and measures to protect the interests of students and employers.
  • Employment-related legislation: Employers may also face legal consequences under various employment-related laws if they knowingly or negligently hire individuals with fraudulent qualifications.

Examples of legal actions and penalties for fraudulent qualifications

In recent years, Singapore has seen an increase in legal actions taken against individuals and institutions involved in diploma fraud:

  • Prosecution of individuals: Cases have been reported where individuals who used fraudulent qualifications to secure employment have been prosecuted and convicted under the Penal Code, resulting in fines and imprisonment.
  • Action against diploma mills: The authorities have taken action against unaccredited and fraudulent educational institutions operating within Singapore, resulting in closures, fines, and other penalties.
  • Employer liability: Employers who knowingly or negligently hire individuals with fake qualifications may face legal consequences, including financial penalties and damage to their reputation.

By understanding the legal consequences and actions taken against diploma fraud, employers can better appreciate the importance of vigilance and due diligence in the hiring process. This not only helps protect their businesses but also supports the broader efforts to maintain a qualified and genuine workforce in Singapore.


The alarming rise of diploma fraud in Singapore poses significant challenges for employers, impacting their businesses, the job market, and the economy as a whole. By understanding the various aspects of diploma fraud and its implications, employers can take proactive measures to detect, prevent, and mitigate the risks associated with fraudulent qualifications.

Implementing thorough background checks, collaborating with educational institutions and industry associations, and supporting government initiatives are just a few of the strategies employers can use to ensure they hire genuinely qualified candidates. Additionally, investing in employee training and development helps foster a culture of continuous learning and professional growth.

Ultimately, the responsibility of combating diploma fraud lies not only with the government and educational institutions but also with employers themselves. By taking a proactive stance against diploma fraud, employers can contribute to a more transparent, trustworthy, and secure job market in Singapore, benefiting both their businesses and the wider community. Lastly, by utilizing Veremark's MOM Education Verification Package, employers can guarantee adherence to MOM regulations, which is essential for recruiting skilled and dependable foreign workers. This collaborative effort between the government and accredited screening companies like Veremark aims to curb the negative impact of diploma fraud on employers and preserve Singapore's reputable business environment.

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