More than 400 foreigners were caught last year for lying to Singapore's Manpower Ministry in their work pass applications, a fourfold increase from 97 cases in 2005, a media report said on Friday.
The majority were said to have used fake or forged qualifications in applying for employment passes, necessary for highly qualified people, or S-Passes, for semi-skilled workers, The Straits Times said.
A rising trend of workers using qualifications from bogus universities that sell degrees for little or no studies was also detected, the dpa reported.
Making false statements in the applications for work or immigration passes carries stiff penalties, including fines and jail. Foreigners caught are also likely to be repatriated.
IntegraScreen, which does screening work for immigration authorities in several countries in Asia and the Middle East, said about 5 per cent of the resumes are found to be faked.
"The use of diploma mills is exploding as the internet makes buying bogus degrees easier than ever before," managing director John Baxter was quoted as saying.
"More workers are buying these degrees because they're looking for an edge in the competitive job market," he noted.
Most degree mills charge between 50 US dollars and 5,000 US dollars for degrees at all levels. Some provide an after-sale service, with phone operators verifying graduations and sending transcripts to prospective employers.
David Leong, head of PeopleWorldwide Consulting, told the newspaper that those who purchase their degrees are not victims, but intend to hoodwink employers or business clients.