Company Provides Aspiring Media Professionals with Elaborate, Fake Work References

Times are still pretty tough out there for job seekers. So we weren’t entirely surprised when we first heard about The Reference Store, a Cheyenne, WY company that supplies prospective applicants with stellar and entirely fake work backgrounds by creating elaborate dummy companies tied to phantom HR contacts.

But how many media types, FishbowlLA wondered, have availed themselves of the company’s services? Via email interview, operations manager David Everett has the answer.

“We’ve successfully assisted fourteen media professionals into jobs in the United States as well as four more internationally,” he says. “The majority of these folks tend to be young men, not more than four years out of school.”

Fudging on a resume is one thing; hiring, for a variety of set-up and monthly fees, a firm to gather industry intelligence and set up the perfect non-existent previous job(s), is quite another. It’s fascinating, unethical and, Everett acknowledges, controversial.

Here’s a more detailed example of how it works. One male customer with zero reporting experience paid hundreds of dollars for Everett and co. to build out a fake broadcast journalism career path. The new resume showed him growing in the business all the way to executive producer for a large radio station in the Great Lakes area.

“We built two separate fake radio stations and one fake TV station,” Everett explains, “where he claimed to have worked as an intern, writer, associate producer, and producer. We wrote a beautiful resume to correspond with the virtual history we created.”

Beautiful may not be the right word for it. Diabolical is more like it, at least until some equally enterprising HR person at the other end of the equation does their own footwork and exposes the ruse. But that may take a while, as the intricate nature of the service will fool all but the most astute hiring professionals.

“We have several real HR managers associated with us across the country,” he adds. “When appropriate, operational calls are directed to them. Currently, we have five case managers and eight other people that create websites and prepare “ideas” for our clients to select from. These people also do background investigation of targeted employers.”

It’s not just job searchers that are using The Reference Store, launched last July into a niche that also includes Career Excuse and the Alibi Network. Everett says his oldest client so far, a 77-year-old woman, needed her fake support to gain entry to a residence complex.

P.S. The Reference Store is currently hiring. And yes, the online application form asks for references.

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.