Two former trainees of Fremont-based Beta Soft Systems say the staffing company fabricated resumes and instructed them to lie to prospective employers in job interviews.
The 10-year-old, $20 million company has advertised that it has trained and placed workers in information technology jobs at Fortune 500 companies across the nation.
But some jobseekers are warning that Beta Soft takes deposits for career training, crafts fake resumes for trainees and instructs them to lie to potential employers about their work experience.
“It’s not honest and it’s unethical,” said Laila Rahman, who signed up for the training program last winter.
The 31-year-old part time yoga instructor was seeking her first tech job after earning a certificate in business administration and posting her resume on Monster.com.
She said a Beta Soft recruiter told her that after she received about a month of training, her new skills would be marketed to prospective employers. In the past, Beta Soft has claimed on its website that it has deployed workers to major companies including Google, Apple, and Bank of America, for jobs in web development, internet marketing and quality assurance.
“I’m thinking that this is going to be a good opportunity,” she said. “Having a staffing agency with training would be really helpful.”
So Rahman plunked down a $1,000 deposit for six weeks of training. Near the end of her training, she says she stopped cold when her trainer handed her a version of her resume she didn’t recognize.
“All the experience there—it’s all fake” she said.
She said the company added seven years of fabricated experience to her resume including skills she never learned and jobs she never had in cities she never visited.
Beta Soft’s version of Rahman’s resume included jobs as business analysts at JP Morgan Chase in Delaware; Allstate Insurance in Illinois; North Shore Bank of Commerce in Minnesota and Central Mortgage Company in Arkansas.
According to the resume, her duties included acting as a liaison between developers and businesses, resolving conflicts between business and technical teams and reviewing and approving business requirement documents.
Rahman said her trainer told her she wouldn’t be able to get tech jobs without the experience. Her real two-page resume lists her actual experience as an English tutor, online academic coach and yoga instructor.
“I was surprised that they would want us to talk about these things in an interview with an employer,” Rahman said. “They want us to act like we actually had the experience and know the knowledge that we’re supposed to. Enough to really pretend we did those things in a job.”
Earsell Lewis, a 35-year-old job seeker who wants to become a software engineer, shares a similar experience. But he says Beta Soft wasn’t the first company to provide him with a fake resume.
“It’s pretty common nowadays. Companies from all over the U.S. are using this practice,” Lewis said. “It’s easy to convince entry level people that this is what you have got to go through.”
Last October, Lewis took a chance and moved to the Bay Area from Wake Village, Texas. He paid a $500 deposit and spent six weeks in training. He says Beta Soft paid for a Fremont apartment he shared with four other trainees for six months while the company marketed the resume they created for him.
“I would say only 10 percent of it is true,” he said.
The Beta Soft resume included jobs as a quality analyst engineer at Blackhawk Network, Inc. in Pleasanton and five years as a quality analyst at FedEx in Memphis.
“I haven’t been there before,” Lewis said. “I don’t even know anybody who has been there before.”
He said the Beta Soft employees trained him in mock interviews to “defend his resume.” But after several failed interviews, Lewis decided to tell his story to warn other jobseekers about the risks of doing business this type of staffing company.
“I’d be crazy to do this again,” Lewis said. “What happens if my information gets out there and I bomb this completely? I’m pretty much committing career suicide with this.”
The Investigative Unit found that in many online reviews, Beta Soft appears to have defenders. There are plenty of five-star reviews on sites such as My Visa Jobs, Glassdoor. In March, a reviewer posted on My Visa Jobs that Beta Soft “was able to place me in a position that utilized all of my job skills.” In a Glassdoor review from March 2013 a person commented, “They have exceptional marketing staff, training and provide great support.”
But NBC Bay Area found other reviewers on those sites, as well as in the recommended reviews on Yelp http://www.yelp.com/biz/beta-soft-systems-fremont-2, who gave Beta Soft a one or two-star rating. Complaints that mention fake resumes date back to 2011.
The Better Business Bureau says it has received four complaints about Beta Soft in the past three years, two of which mention fake resumes. One complaint sent to the BBB in February includes “Beta Soft Systems wanted to plagiarize my resume with false information to send out to companies to employ me as a business analyst.”
Lori Wilson, the president and CEO of the Golden Gate BBB called the complaint “very serious.”
“It’s very concerning that a company would encourage them to falsify information or even ask them to,” she said.
In Oregon, the Department of Justice is investigating Beta Soft for alleged unlawful business practices in connection with its recruiting services. The company’s attorney, Harmeet Dhillon, said she expects the company will be able to successfully answer all questions in that investigation.
NBC Bay Area has extended multiple interview requests to Beta Soft since April to better understand the company’s business practices, but no one from Beta Soft would speak on the record.
Allegations of fake resumes extend beyond Beta Soft. Online reviewers of other IT staffing companies also warn of “fake documents” and “fake work experience.”
“I think what we’re seeing at this point in time is a result of the hyper environment of [Silicon] Valley,” said Kirk Hanson, director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.
Hanson says with a shortage of manpower and skilled workers in the Bay Area, “there’s a greater temptation today than maybe five years ago to misrepresent the capabilities of the employees you are placing.”
He explained that staffing companies receive fees when they contract a worker out to a client company for a short or long-term project.
“I worry about the young people whose first experience with business is to get trained by a firm which then asks them to falsify their resume,” Hanson said. “Such a firm is playing on their naiveté.”
Rahman said she finally received a refund of her $1,000 deposit only after she emailed Beta Soft to inform the company she filed a complaint with the Santa Clara County District Attorney.
Lewis never got his money back. Both are still searching for IT jobs.
“It’s just time and money lost,” Lewis said. “At this point I am back where I started.”
If you have a tip for the Investigative Unit email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 888-996-TIPS.