It's no longer just fraud or embezzlement that Hong Kong firms want private eyes to investigate. Many are hiring them to check the accuracy of job applicants' résumés. "There are an increasing number of inflated items on the CVs submitted by jobseekers," said Kelvin Ko, managing director of Verity Consulting, which offers commercial investigative and consulting services. "We have seen increasing demand by many Hong Kong companies for pre-employment checks." Ko, a former Hong Kong police officer who set up his own firm, helps clients check the backgrounds of targets for mergers and acquisitions or to investigate suspected internal fraud. "But there is a growing trend of companies wanting to consult our firm for ways to prevent fraud. This includes investigating the accuracy of the CVs submitted by job applicants," he told the South China Morning Post. Ko said the companies found that in many cases candidates listed inaccurate qualifications or educational backgrounds on their résumés. "In the most extreme case, one candidate claimed he had an EMBA degree from a well-known mainland university that he had earned via distance learning. But upon checking, we found out that the university does not offer an EMBA course or any distance learning degree," Ko said. In another case, a job applicant claimed to belong to the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, but Ko's investigation found that to be untrue. "Before, only multinational firms hired detective firms to do pre-employment checks, but now there is demand from even small and medium-sized enterprises. This is because fake CVs are so common that companies must pay more attention to prevent themselves from falling into the trap," Ko said. He said companies do not want to hire a liar. "For some job positions that require the staff to handle clients' money or personal data, the companies want to make sure they are hiring an honest person. If someone lies on a CV, his or her integrity is put in doubt," he said. To prevent internal fraud, Ko said, companies need to make sure they hire the right people. Besides checking on a résumé, companies might also want to see if a jobseeker has a debt problem or whether he or she has links to a criminal organisation. Ko said firms could design a job application form that requires the applicant to sign a declaration that all information provided is accurate. He said it might make them think twice before submitting a false résumé, because it would make them liable for presenting a false document.