It’s easy to experience deceit – whether that be from a candidate touting a skillset they really don’t have, or a technical recruiter embellishing some of the company offered benefits. However, fighting fraud in the technical recruitment process is a real issue.

Just last week, six former recruiters from a defense contractor were indicted by the Department of Justice for their role in a conspiracy to commit fraud in connection with a contract to recruit and deploy linguists to Afghanistan. Services were sought from linguists to provide language services in Dari and Pashto to the U.S. military. The indictment alleges that the defendants knowingly recruited linguists who lacked the language proficiency required. The recruiters arranged for other individuals with stronger language levels to impersonate the unqualified candidates during oral proficiency interviews in hopes to make it appear that the candidates possessed stronger language skills than was the case. If those candidates were accepted, it would be at the detriment to the U.S. Armed Forces.


To avoid innocently (instead of knowingly like these defendants) supplying candidates to the federal government that lack the necessary technical skills to perform on contract, employ these five tactics to fight candidate fraud.

1. Request official transcripts/test scores.

Don’t just take a candidate’s word for it when it comes to certifications or test scores for technical skills. If the performance work statement (PWS) for a contract requires a Defense Language Institute test with a Defense Language Proficiency Test, or DLPT score of 4 in both listening and reading, request that they include official copies with their application or resume.

2. Have them talk with a potential co-worker or interview with the team lead.

Technical recruiters should already be best buds with their program team leads – they can be an incredible ally to the talent acquisition team as they are identifying hard to find candidates. If there is a technical role like a linguist that you need to fill, ask if you’re team lead or a potential co-worker is willing to have a 10-15 minute conversation with the candidate. This will also ensure that personalities mesh well! (personality fraud is a real thing, too).

3. Develop your own technical aptitude test.

Have you ever recruited for a program where the contracting officer (KO) is willing to waiver a DLPT test score? If you have a cleared candidate where Russian is their native language, perhaps there hasn’t been a need to test for language proficiency. If you have others on the team who know the required language needed to be filled, have them develop a technical assessment of your own!

4. Ask for a supervisor letter of recommendation within their technical field.

Some folks in the national security world are against letters of recommendation because it can promote some version of nepotism, perpetuates advantages of the entitled and well-connected, or are useless pieces of performance that just check a box. From a recruitment perspective, sometimes they are just a good verifier from a supervisor. If a candidate’s resume looks like it’s lacking or made up in some way, request a letter of recommendation from their last technical lead or program manager. If they are motivated to join your company, it shouldn’t pose as an outrageous request.

5. Actually check their references.

Your open position requires a security clearance which usually means a heavy background investigation – so candidates aren’t likely to be liars, right? FALSE. Everyone has told even a little white lie at times. Check those references – it could be the difference between dodging a bullet or hiring your worst nightmare.

Open Billet Better than Facing Fraud Charges

At times, the defendants from the recruitment Department of Justice case even impersonated candidates themselves during interviews. It can be frustrating when a candidate doesn’t follow through with paperwork, signed offers, interviews, etc. but it’s not worth a fraudulent charge that could put you away behind bars.

But cleared candidates can be the scammers too. Inform your technical recruiting teams of these tactics so you can ensure you’re fighting the fraud!

Related News

Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 7+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸