There is a viral news story about an Australian woman named Veronica Hilda Theriault, who falsified her resume and used fake pictures and references to get a high-paying job. She was arrested and sentenced to a year in prison.

While her actions are obviously distasteful (and certainly grounds for dismissal), would this be criminal in the US? It seems unusual to me that ordinary lying (not in court) would be treated as a criminal matter.

3 Answers 3


Potentially, yes - especially if its the government you lie to in your CV/resume or course of work.

Wayne Simmons, a regular Fox News commentator who claimed to have worked for the Central Intelligence Agency for almost three decades, was arrested on Thursday for allegedly fabricating his agency experience.

CNN Money reports that Simmons appeared in court on Thursday, where he faced charges of major fraud against the United States for falsely claiming to be a former “outside paramilitary special operations officer”—a padded resume that federal officials say he used to successfully gain government security clearances.


Simmons claimed to have been an "outside paramilitary special operations officer" for the CIA from 1973 to 2000. Not only did he use that claim to get guest appearances on Fox News, but the government claims he used it to gain security clearances and a defense contractor gig that included advising senior military personnel overseas. He's now being charged with wire fraud, major fraud against the United States, and making false statements to the government and could face 35 years in prison.


Making false or fraudulent statements also may be punishable by fine or imprisonment.


  • @GeorgeWhite he made false statements to the government during the course of several things, including applying for security clearances but also for positions as a government contractor. The full quote in my last link is probably more applicable, in that it outright says you may be fined or imprisoned if you sign and certify the accuracy of the information in your application and it turns out to be false.
    – user28517
    Dec 5, 2019 at 21:26
  • @GeorgeWhite in addition, the Find Law link also states "All states have criminal statutes against fraud, and some states, like Washington, have statutes that make using a fake degree a felony. And if you're faking documents as part of your resume lies, you could also be charged with forgery." Given we are looking at a like-for-like situation here, she would almost certainly have been arrested in the US as well.
    – user28517
    Dec 5, 2019 at 21:28

I know the OP asked specifically about the United States, but as an additional data-point, lying on a CV is definitely criminal in England and Wales (specifically "Fraud by misrepresentation"). See this article in the Independent (I couldn't find an online copy of the original leaflet).

The article reports one woman who was given a six month sentence for lying on their CV. (Given the multiple layers of reporting here, it is quite possible this was a suspended prison sentence.)


Would she be arrested? Almost certainly not.

Could she be arrested? Yes, criminal fraud, case would be similar to the cases made against participants in the recent college admissions scandals in the US. This only happens when the media gets involved and some prosecutor with political aspirations thinks that justice in this case would be popular.

In many cases, the victim company itself wouldn't even pursue civil remedy.

Disclaimer: I did not read the news stories - just your question.

  • So the people involved in the college admissions scandal would not be in criminal court unless it was newsworthy for the prosecutes? Dec 5, 2019 at 21:10

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