Harvard Identity Theft Has Lessons for CEOs

The story about the Harvard student who fraudulently gained access into Harvard University is an excellent lesson in repelling fraud. Watching the video to the left, you will be struck by how many opportunities there were to catch him in the act of lying. But it didn’t happen for a long time. The underlying reason he didn’t get caught is the same for prestigious universities like Harvard, Fortune 500 Companies and small businesses alike:

No one verified his claims (until recently). Verification is a learned skill that is under-utilized and under-

trained in corporate America.

Apparently the university, the financial aid office and a list of other responsible parties didn’t double check any of the claims he made – his grades, his transfer from MIT, his financial status, nothing. This happens inside of businesses everyday. New hires are processed without so much as a background check, reference check or educational check actually taking place. It is on the HR checklist of to-dos, but that doesn’t mean it is getting done. As a matter of fact, this is a similar case to the Bernie Madoff case – had the SEC taken just a few hours to verify his claims, his victims wouldn’t be out $54 billion. At some point, businesses are going to begin taking notice, and will train their executives and employees on detecting the human side of fraud. It’s not that difficult.

John Sileo became one of America’s leading Fraud Training Experts & sought after Identity Theft Speakers after he lost his business and more than $300,000 to identity theft and data breach. His clients include the Department of Defense, Pfizer and the FDIC. To learn more about having him speak at your next meeting or conference, contact him by email or on 800.258.8076.

Adam Wheeler, 23, of Milton, Delaware, faces 20 counts of larceny, identity fraud and other charges over his 2007 application to Harvard University. Apparently he went undetected for almost two years until he applied for a prestigious scholarship that required a more in depth background evaluation.

A professor reviewing his file noticed that Wheeler had plagiarized information from another professor and became suspicious. After a subsequent investigation they found this was not the first time that he had falsified his academic history and achievements.

Mr. Wheeler has been in custody since he was arrested on May 10th and on Tuesday he plead not guilty to all charges. Sources say that when he was confronted with the plagiarism accusation his only response was “ah, I must have made a mistake”.


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