Nurse degree scheme 'not surprising at all,' says LinkedIn, KarmaCheck co-founder

Operation Nightingale — the Justice Department initiative that discovered more than 7,600 fraudulent diplomas allowed unqualified purchasers to practice as nurses — shocked HHS, the FBI and medical professionals nationwide. 

Eric Ly, the co-founder of LinkedIn — and, more recently, background check company KarmaCheck — was less surprised by the news. 

"It's really not surprising at all," Mr. Ly told Becker's Hospital Review.

People frequently use false information to secure jobs, according to Mr. Ly. In fact, 44 percent of information provided by LinkedIn users is untrue, from job titles to tenures. 

Lying about one's credentials is particularly dangerous in the healthcare space, Mr. Ly said. 

"In the case of healthcare, credentials are not a light matter," he said. "It is a life and death situation where the clinician is tending to people's health and well-being, and if they are not qualified to perform their duties, that really puts people in danger." 

However, other industries have fallen subject to misinformation — so why would healthcare be exempt? Some experts estimate that degree mills are a multibillion-dollar industry, according to the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. A 2004 study conducted by the Government Accountability Office found that 463 federal employees received degrees from alleged mills, and technological advancements in the past two decades have only made it easier to lie about one's credentials. 

Rampant misinformation inspired Mr. Ly to create KarmaCheck, a background check company that he says is a more "efficient, scalable" way to verify the accuracy of an applicant's background before they are employed. KarmaCheck organizes around the individual and links previous checks together to cut down on wait times. 

Much of KarmaCheck's clientele rests in the healthcare industry, Mr. Ly said. The labor and talent shortage has renewed the importance of speedy and accurate background checks — and the equal relevance of a positive, efficient experience for the applicant. 

The best way to avoid fraudulent applicants is to find a vetting system that can work for healthcare's scale, while functioning at the speed it needs to fill vacancies, according to Mr. Ly. 

"In this day and age with an increase in power going back to the candidate, it's more important to provide a positive experience for them while ensuring there's accuracy," Mr. Ly said. 

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