The latest victim to fall from grace due to resume fraud is Scott Thompson, who was named Yahoo’s chief executive in January. The former president of PayPal graduated from Stonehill College in Massachusetts with a degree in accounting – but he also claimed he had a degree in computer science. Turns out the college didn’t offer that degree until several years after Thompson claimed he earned his.
“Holding these credentials seem(ed) very plausible for someone with Thompson’s job history,” Melinda Blackman, a professor of psychology at California State University in Fullerton, said on CNN this morning, “and since he was a well known and successful executive, a background check was probably put on the backburner.”
After being exposed by a Yahoo shareholder, Daniel S. Loeb, however, Thompson apologized for the misrepresentation and has now stepped down. (He’s also reportedly told the board that he’s been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.) What’s clear is that he’s not the only high-profile business or government leader to have been caught fudging the details of personal credentials. Plenty of folks before him have gotten away with it. Click on our photo gallery of seven others who have “creatively enhanced” their resumes over the years – and then paid a dreadful price.
Here are eight famous cases of resume fraud:
It's a shake-up that's still reverberating through the business world: Thompson, 54, has lost his chief executive's position at Yahoo while also reportedly telling the board he's been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Thompson apologized to employees of the troubled Internet company last week and has now been replaced at Yahoo, on an interim basis, by Ross Levinsohn, who was formerly Yahoo's executive vice president of the Americas region.
Made famous by the novel about his life, Catch Me If You Can - later a film starring Leonardio DiCaprio - Frank Abagnale forged a law degree from Harvard, passed the Louisiana State bar, and worked for awhile in a state attorney general's office. He later forged a degree from Columbia University and taught school. The fibs were clearly a pattern: He had also impersonated a pediatrician and pilot earlier on. He served three prison terms.
The former chief executive of RadioShack Corporation claimed that he held diplomas in psychology and theology from Pacific Coast Baptist in San Diego, California - but there was no evidence, as it turned out, that Edmondson ever graduated from the college. He was finally terminated from his CEO position - or, as Forbes put it, "Busted for faking his college degree."
Considered a visionary but also eccentric, Rob Kalin co-founded the profitable e-commerce startup Etsy. He's since stepped down twice from the chief executive role. He dropped out of high school with a D-minus average but gained admission to a studio program at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts on the strength of a portfolio, according to degreescout.com. He later forged graduate credentials so that he could attend design classes at MIT. Kalin does have a legitimate degree in Classics, apparently, from NYU.
The former admissions dean at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) claimed she was a "scientist with degrees in biology from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the Albany Medical College," and that she held a doctorate. She resigned from her job in April 2007 after officials learned of her fabrications - which she eventually admitted. "I did not have the courage to correct my resume when I applied for my current job or at any time since," she said then.
Talk about bluffing and puffing your way through academic credentials. Zarrella, former CEO of Bausch & Lomb, asserted for 10 years in his biography that he held an MBA from New York University's business school. In reality, he had begun the program - but never actually finished it. He was forced to return a $1.1 million bonus from Bausch & Lomb and left as CEO of the company in January 2008.
Former Notre Dame head football coach O'Leary said he held a master's degree from NYU-Stony Brook University, though such a school does not actually exist (they're two separate institutions). His resume also said his undergraduate alma mater, University of New Hampshire, gave him three letters in football, but he never played a single game (he did graduate in 1968). O'Leary resigned from the Fighting Irish after admitting to "resume padding" and eventually landed at the University of Central Florida as head football coach.
The former CEO and president of Lotus Corporation, Papows (far left) was found by The Wall Street Journal in 1999 to have exaggerated his military record (he was a lieutenant, it turns out, not a captain) and to have faked his educational credentials (he did not have a PhD from Pepperdine University, as he claimed). He eventually resigned from Lotus and told staff in a memo, "I would like to once again lead an independent organization."