Invisible Bridges for Sale! Real Cheap.

Hey! For 20 of these babies I could ….

Have you ever purchased something that you thought was such a great deal until – you got home, open the box, and realized you’d been had?

Question: How can you ensure the person you are hiring can get the job done?

Understanding Fraud

While exploring the reasons why crooked salespersons perpetrate fraud against buyers, Darby and Karni (1973) found some people give false information regarding their skills and qualifications to bilk prospective buyers who they know would otherwise not hire them. Specifically, cozeners knowing and willingly mislead prospective buyers by claiming skills, qualifications, knowledge, experience, and products or services quality with the sole purpose of separating the buyer from their hard-earned money.  Period.  The game is, without such lies and pretenses, the deceivers know no one would pay a dime for that bags of tricks (p. 67). 

Darby and Karni identified “credence qualities” fraud as the most egregious. They felt this type of scam is the worst because charlatans use a systematic method to lift hard-earned currency from bank accounts. Credence fraud involves the con artists carefully seeking out, grooming, and playing their victims to first gain favor then stringing the buyers along with lies until the defrauders can escape with their money. Darby & Karni explained credence tricksters know to look for buyers of products or services in high demand then offer the buyers the same items at a reduced or lower-than-market cost.  Once the scammers get a sucker on the hook, the swindlers demand an advance payment to lock the contract down, then meticulously keep the customer waiting and in a positive mood until the grifters can get away with at least one more check (p. 69 – 72). (Outrageous!)

While some call for governmental or law enforcement interventions against such cheaters, others rightfully argue that regulations are no substitute for consumer due diligence and contract monitoring (p. 84).  Instead of regulations, Darby & Karni advise buyers can prevent credence fraud by demanding proof of ability or product quality before purchase (p. 87). 

Digital Badging and Micro-Credentialization

The ability to provide proof of what you know or what you can do is the cornerstone of digital badging, or micro-credentialization.  Badging has long been a symbol of achievement and performance. For decades, governments, militarys, and social groups have all used badging to denote class, character, and capabilities.

Law (2015) studied the relatively new phenomenon of digital badging in higher education. After noting that Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) led the way by offering individuals a chance to earn proof they learned things from reading certain threads, reading content, or voted on content posted by universities and colleges all over the world, Law examined the new player, open education resources (OER). This free online digital learning platform also enables individuals and educational institutions to access free learning and micro-credentialization that helps them prove they gained knowledge and skills during online education provided by tutors and educators (p. 222).

But, does it work? To test the effectiveness of OU open badging, Law conducted a large-scale study that administered a multiple-choice survey to 2,448 OU users between April and July 2013 and again between April and July 2014. The results revealed OU served a diverse range of learners interested in furthering their knowledge, skills, and abilities for a variety of reasons.

And, the majority of respondents indicate they achieved that purpose.  Of total responses, 80% said OU offered high-quality content with 58% saying OU studies improved their confidence and abilities.  One of the main benefits respondents noted was their ability to receive micro-credentialization, or digital badges, as proof of their accomplishments and achievements (Law, 2015).

But, what does this have to do with chiselers, hoaxers, hustlers, impostors, impersonators, and snake oil salespeople?  

Jennie’s Perspective

Back to the question: How can you ensure the person you are hiring can get the job done?

Well. The answer appears simple.  If some pretender begins ragging you about why you should pay him big bucks to do this or that – shouldn’t he be able to prove it with more than just talk?  Especially considering, at this point, digital badges are either low-cost or no cost?

Buyers, beware of the scam. Make them prove it!

I’m just sayin’ ….


Ahn, J., Pellicone, A., & Butler, B. S. (2014). Open badges for education: what are the implications at the intersection of open systems and badging?. Research in Learning Technology22.

Darby, M. R., & Karni, E. (1973). Free competition and the optimal amount of fraud. The Journal of law and economics16(1), 67-88.

Law, P. (2015). Digital badging at The Open University: recognition for informal learning. Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning30(3), 221-234.

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