Identity theft comes to ad town

Kieran BrazilIn this guest post, recruiter Kieran Brazil reveals how he found himself interviewing not only an imposter, but someone who had lifted a decade of CV experience from a senior industry figure.

I’ve been recruiting in the industry for over 10 years now, and thought I had come across most scenarios from both candidates and clients, but this week was a first – and I’m still scratching my head over how he thought he could get away with it.   

It started simply enough, with a response to an ad we had placed on Mumbrella and other places for a senior strategic plannner for a creative agency. Big job, great money, fantastic challenge for an industry figure. There’s not a whole lot of these people looking at any one time, so I was more than pleasantly surprised to read an emailed application, with a very suitable looking CV. It mentioned well over ten years at multinational agency giants, plus a current tenure as a senior marketing bod at a very well known telco.

I saw that he was applying from Sydney , and the role was in Melbourne. I emailed asking him if he was aware of the location. When he responded in the positive I immediately made an arrangement to meet on the Monday following.

So, with great anticipation, I went out to reception to meet this chap, and ushered him into our boardroom.

Virtually from the first few questions / statements, my suspicions were aroused. He was nervous looking, toey, and I asked him if he needed to be somewhere else, as he was certainly giving off that impression. I tried asking him general questions, then specific, and he just wasn’t coming up with anything.

He seemed as much of a senior planner as the pot plant in the corner. I really didn’t know what to think – I asked him to go over his previous roles, he just skated over the details. I asked him if he knew his multinational Melbourne counterpart at the time (who I know) – he said he didn’t.

Confused to say the very least, I brought the interview to a halt after about ten minutes, promising I’d get back to him to set up an interview with our client.

I spoke to the client, who had also worked for the same multinational named – he had never heard of him. He mentioned the person who had fulfilled the role described, who I was aware of but didn’t actually know, so I did a LinkedIn search.

Nothing at all for my person, but a very familiar seven or eight paragraphs of experience from the actual incumbent. My “candidate” had lifted two jobs, over ten years, and multiple success stories directly – in a total cut and paste job!

I was gobsmacked at the audacity of this person. I phoned up the real possessor of the experience, who was also suitably shocked. (She has asked to remain anonymous out of respect to her current employers.)

We pondered what to do – tell the police? Conduct a physical sting? I was still pondering these questions when the “candidate” started chasing me up, by phone and email, asking when his interview was going to be.

So I spoke to him, very gently said that I was a tad confused, as his previous MD had indicated he had never heard of him – he blustered through saying there were several MDs throughout his time (not true). I then went the full monty and told him I had been speaking with the person who actually had held that position, and got a very prompt hang up.

I’m still amazed at his front as I write this – he seriously thought he may have got away with it. What did he think would happen?

All of us have decided not to pursue this. There’s been no criminal offence committed – yet. I’m just glad I didn’t embarrass myself by not working him out, and introducing him to our clients in an excited fashion.

By the way, the role is still going – and it’s a great opportunity – for someone. Preferably someone who has his or her own CV and experience of course.



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