Changing trends in employment fraud: spotting the imposter before they harm your business

In August this year, the Government revealed that penalties for employers who employ illegal migrants are set to triple in 2024

Changing trends in employment fraud

Civil penalties will rise from £15,000 for a first offence to £45,000, and for repeat offenders the fines will go up from £20,000 to £60,000. This is not an insignificant sum and will be applied for each employee found to be working without the Right to Work (RtW) in the UK.  

For SMEs the risk is considerable, not simply in financial terms but in reputational cost and lost opportunities due to having to rehire replacement candidates. The message coming from the Government is a strong one, couched in robust terms by Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister who said; “We are announcing the biggest shake-up since 2014 on the penalties imposed on rogue employers and landlords who seek to circumvent our immigration rules by hiring or renting to illegal migrants.” 

The trouble is that not all of the employers who hire illegal migrants are ‘rogue’. Some are victims of the increasingly sophisticated methods used by people who do not meet essential right to work criteria to illegally obtain work in the UK.

Putting protection in place

Just as any SME would put plans in place to combat fraud and theft from hackers and scammers, the threat from hiring illegal employees needs similar focus. Businesses have to be vigilant against recruitment fraud as much as any other security risk. Opening your doors to the wrong person can be devastating. How do you know if the person you’re recruiting is the real deal? At TrustID, we are seeing a different type of RtW fraud as the rules around qualifying documentation change and imposter fraud is more common than before.

As a government-certified Identity Service Provider (IDSP), TrustID is trusted by thousands of organisations to perform Right to Work (RtW) checks on every employee. We’ve been doing it for more than ten years and over that time have seen different trends in fraudulent documentation and the lengths that people will take to obtain work illegally. 

We have seen many cases of fraudsters changing their approach and presenting different types of documents to potential employers to meet the latest guidance. In one example, a repeat offender  attempted to gain employment using a fake Spanish document in 2020,  then presented a fake biometric residence permit (BRP) the following year   and when BRPs became ineligible for RtW  in 2022,  presented a fraudulently obtained share code.

Imposter attacks are alive and well

As we know, fake documentation isn’t the only method adopted by fraudsters. We are seeing increasing numbers of genuine proof of Right to Work evidence being presented by imposters. Whether documents are presented physically, remotely or via a digital RtW check from a certified IDSP, the documentation must match the person presenting it. Verifying this can be done in person or using a secure video link for eligible candidates. For added peace of mind, identity validation services can analyse a selfie image against the person whose image is on the document. This face-matching and liveness checking technology adds an extra level of security. SMEs must further protect themselves by running checks on the person who turns up on their first day to be sure it is the person who was checked. 

Protecting your business has never been more essential

While the new levels of civil penalties are primarily aimed at deterring ‘rogue’ employers, it’s vital that innocent and well-intentioned SMEs don’t expose themselves to the same tricks and techniques used by imposters and fraudsters. We know and understand that remaining compliant can take up a great deal of valuable time and effort. And that you don’t want to introduce friction into your recruitment and on-boarding processes at a time when competition for skills is fierce. That’s why TrustID continually invests in developing and adapting our solutions to meet the evolving challenges, and we provide expert back up in human form to check out any anomalies that just don’t look quite right. 

If you’d like to read more about the trends in fraudulent identity documents we come across, check out our findings here.

Tony Machin
Tony Machin

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