Feature of the Week

April 29, 2013 12:03 am

A smarter way to discover the fraudulent and the forged

David Goldenberg and Pierre-David Dewaele, the funders and owners of CV Trust at the office in Brussels, Belgium on 22.03.2013 The company uses software to see and check on people's credentials©Wiktor Dabowski

When David Goldenberg was a consultant for a Belgian company and a suspicious CV landed on his desk it took him nearly four days to find out that it was fraudulent.

“The guy seemed to be too good on paper, but I knew there was something fishy with the CV.”

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Tracking down the university mentioned on the fake CV took time and money. “Often universities can’t reply immediately to a company’s request. They are busy, they have departments to run,” he says.

“But this is a problem for companies as their employees need to make endless calls and waste working days to find out whether the credentials of a potential candidate are genuine.”

It was then that Mr Goldenberg realised there was an attractive business opportunity in front of him. “I thought, ‘I wonder how many other HR departments must go through this problem ... I’m sure we can come up with a faster digital solution rather than using a laborious human procedure’.”

He decided to quit his job and partnered with Pierre-David Dewaele, a fellow Belgian manager, to set up CV Trust and create Smart Diploma.

What is Smart Diploma?

Smart Diploma is a standardised, digital, secure system to “grant, ensure, monitor and protect” people’s credentials – in other words a digital academic passport. Several business schools including IMD, Insead and MIT Sloan have already signed up for Smart Diploma.

How does it make life easier?

Smart Diploma provides schools with a digital means of awarding their students their degree certificates. This allows the schools to protect their brand – the institutions’ names cannot be used improperly. It also helps schools cut costs as credentials can be granted in a click.

Smart Diploma also provides institutions with an easy way of remaining in contact with their alumni. Using survey tools within Smart Diploma schools can encourage their alumni to update their professional profile in exchange for the Smart Diploma service.

But what’s in it for alumni?

In exchange for answering a few questions every year from their university, alumni receive a digital academic passport that they can use to promote their academic background to recruiters, job sites and social networks. There is also an automatic certified translation of their credentials in any language, useful for international jobseekers.

Why should business be interested?

When recruiters see that a certificate has the Smart Diploma trade mark they will know that the CV is genuine. They will not have to call universities to double-check credentials, saving time and money.

How does it work?

Smart Diploma gives institutions a platform to help them design templates for diplomas, certification letters, transcripts, etc. Once these are designed, schools then grant the credentials to their graduates, who must activate the diploma. Graduates then upload their diplomas on social network sites and send them to recruiters. Prospective employers click on the Smart Diploma link taking them to a secure online environment where the credentials can be verified as genuine.

But isn’t it easy to copy the Smart Diploma or hack the system?

No. Each Smart Diploma is unique and contains a built-in security component that can be verified in a single click. It would require a sophisticated hacker to break into the highly encrypted system. Although the risk of forgery can never be eradicated, it is much lower than the risk of having a student either forging a paper diploma or buying a fake diploma online, which is so common today.

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