Don’t just take their word for it – Verify it! The importance of background checks.

Convicted paedophile Dennis Ferguson has been using alias “Ray” Ferguson to sell merchandise to general public, including children.

In a roundup of the news last week across Australia, there were two articles which highlighted the importance of background checks and verifying the source of where your information came from.  Online Investigations knows all too well how trusting Australians can be, and without the need for paranoia, in this day and age it should be common practice for all employers to undertake even the simplest of Google searches on all potential employees – with any adverse information identified immediately warranting the requirement for a full background check.

Yesterday the Daily Telegraph spotted convicted sex offender Dennis Ferguson selling merchandise to the general public at Circular Quay in Sydney.   In the late 1980’s, Ferguson was jailed for 14 years for sexually assaulting three children aged six, seven and eight in a Brisbane motel.  Shortly after being released he was sent back to jail after breaching his parole conditions when he was caught wandering through a primary school.

It is understood he had signed up as a RSPCA charity fundraiser using his middle name, “Ray” and was offering a range of related goods including various animal-shaped shortbread biscuits, pens, stickers and badges.  Clearly the general public would of have had no idea this individual was a high profile convicted pedophile and would no doubt have been dealing directly with children and their oblivious parents.

When approached with this information, the RSPCA confirmed they had no knowledge of Ferguson’s history, and reiterated they would now seek to revoke his volunteer permit.  Is this enough though?  Should taking a reactive approach to these situations be considered acceptable when background checks and Working with Children checks are freely available? This should certainly raise questions as to who else they may have on their books selling merchandise to the General Public.

In other news, Channel 10 have found themselves in hot water with regular guest Chef Adriano Zumbo after promoting false claims he was the protege of rival pastry chef, Vincent Gadan.  Researchers for the show had obtained this false information online and had used this on several promotions without verifying the claims were indeed correct.  On seeing the advertisements, Zumbo reacted by venting on his Twitter account “”@MasterChef-Aust Watch what your saying as its not true, it’s a false statement”.  Further reports suggest Masterchef executives have since apologised to  Zumbo and amended their promotions accordingly.  We agree the role of search engines play an important part in the initial stages of  background checks  – however as Investigators we know all too well that this information should never be considered fact until verification from multiple sources have been undertaken.  In this instance there was no reason why researchers could not have verified this information directly with Zumbo and a stray in standard practices has resulted in Zumbo firing back claiming Gardan was “always jumping on the bandwagon”.

If you have concerns about a new employee, or are trying to verify whether information found online is correct – speak with Online Investigations and find out how licensed private investigators can help.

Online Investigations Pty Ltd are a private investigation company based in Melbourne, Australia.  Experienced private investigators and detectives in Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and Worldwide. Servicing Canberra, Sydney, Darwin, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth and International.


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