Why You Shouldn’t Use a Fake Professional Reference

Aug 16 2021

I was scrolling through Instagram the other day – yes, lawyers procrastinate too – and I came across this post:

fake reference, friends as reference I couldn’t tell whether it was trying to offer legal advice, so I googled “fake references.”  I was alarmed to come across many purported “success stories” of employment applicants using fake references and even more alarmed to find several companies that apparently sell fake references.  (I’m not going to link to any of those companies here.)

Take it from a lawyer whose job it is to stand up for employees:  Using a fake reference is a really bad idea, for at least three reasons.

First, the vast majority of employers check references, and if you’re caught using a fake reference, your application will be immediately rejected.  It’s not a gamble worth taking, especially if your application stands a chance of success based on your actual (true) skills and experiences.

Second, lying on a job application is potentially criminal.  That’s right: not just “against the law,” but an actual crime.  The definition of criminal fraud, in a nutshell, is lying in order to obtain something of value.  Well, a job is something of value, and passing someone off as a professional reference when they’re not is a lie.  No, most employers who catch you using a fake reference won’t bother filing a criminal complaint, and even if they did, most police departments probably wouldn’t bother investigating.  But they could, and isn’t that enough to steer clear?

Third, your lie can follow you through your employment.  And I don’t just mean that you’ll feel guilty (though you should).  Of course, if your employer ever discovers your lie, you’re very likely to be fired – and for good reason.  Beyond that, though, if you ever find yourself in a legal dispute with your employer – for wrongful termination, for example – your prior lie could torpedo your case.  That is because of the doctrine of after-acquired evidence.  Basically, if you sue your employer and they discover during the course of the lawsuit that you previously engaged in misconduct that clearly would have resulted in your termination – which they would be trying very hard to do – then the damages related to your termination immediately stop accruing.  Plus, how sympathetic do you think the judge and jury are going to be when they hear that you only got your job through deceit?

I understand the desire to get your foot in the door of a new job, especially if you separated from your last employer under less-than-ideal circumstances.  But lying on a job application isn’t the way to go.

Share this Post

employee reference check

About the Author

Joshua R. Goodbaum

You deserve justice. We are here to fight for you.

Best Lawyers

Let Us Review Your Case

    We will respond to your message promptly. Although we will keep your message strictly confidential, please note that contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship.

    Client Experiences

    During a very difficult employment situation, I was referred to Joe Garrison. Recognizing the volatile and time sensitive nature of my employment situation, Mr. Garrison met with me immediately (on the weekend no less). He listened to the details of my case, was able to think through possible creative solutions to offer the employer, and was responsive to my myriad of questions. He understood my concerns about litigation versus settlement, and he worked to find the best resolution possible. I am grateful to have had his support at a very difficult time. —J.C., New Haven, CT

    You will never meet a more knowledgeable and compassionate professional than Steve Fitzgerald. My employment situation was very complex, and Attorney Fitzgerald kept me focused while remaining extremely adept and “thinking on his feet.” Should the need present itself again, I would never seek anyone else’s counsel regarding employment issues. I cannot recommend him highly enough. — J.R., New Haven, CT

    Nina Pirrotti provided outstanding legal advice and was trustworthy, dependable, and responsive. From the start, I was confident that her knowledge and experience would obtain favorable results. On a more personal note, I enjoyed working with her and her staff and felt I was included in every part of the process. The dedication, concern, and interest in me as a client was greatly appreciated, and Nina has earned my highest recommendation. — J.H., Monroe, CT

    I recently found myself in need of a lawyer in handling a dispute with my former employer. I was fortunate to retain Josh Goodbaum as my legal counsel. His legal skills knowledge and professionalism shone through in every step of the process resulting in a very positive result. I highly recommend Josh if you find yourself in need of legal counsel. — S.R., Guilford, CT

    When I go to a lawyer for advice, I am usually anxious, particularly the first meeting. Amanda DeMatteis was clear in describing my options and immediately set me at ease. Realistic assessment is important, and Amanda was clear as to how to set up the case and the direction she felt we should go. I had total confidence in her abilities and knew I was being well represented against a large corporation. More importantly, we were successful! —N.M., Haddam, CT

    Proven Results & Personalized Attention When You Need It Most

    American Law Institute Super Lawyers American College of Trial Lawyers Best Lawyers The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers
    Back to Top
    (203) 815-1716