Carollena Vaccaro has a long criminal history that includes a felony conviction for possession of a forged instrument. So how did she get a job as a nanny working for an entrepreneurial family?

Simple, according to the Rochester, New York Democrat and Chronicle:

Vaccaro, who claimed to be a registered nurse, gave them the name and Social Security number of her cousin, DeRosa, without DeRosa’s knowledge. The name came back clean in a background check.

Vaccaro was sentenced to serve between three and six years in prison for two counts of felony identity theft after pleading guilty this week. The family who employed her apparent only lost a $25 Walmart gift card and, very probably, the sense of security in their own home.

So, the question is how could this family have avoided becoming entangled with this woman?

With her history of forgery, it is possible that if the family completed the I-9 process (which many residential employers fail to do), she may have presented valid-looking identification with her picture and her family member’s identity info.

With the false identity information, the criminal background check conducted by the family was useless. Assuming that was the case, the next level of defense would be to verify both her credentials, in this case a nursing license, and her previous employment history.  Employment histories are fairly easy to fabricate but a good background screening firm will have a process to try and substantiate the identity of the individual’s providing references.  This is often something that private employers, particularly families hiring domestic help, are ill-equiped to accomplish.

According to press reports, it also evident that this family was not Vaccaro’s first victim. Numerous people apparently had been taken advantage of by her under several different names. It seems that the local small claims court was very familiar with her, as well.

It is interesting how many individuals fail to conduct thorough background checks on employees who will be working in their homes, especially when hiring a nanny to working with children, housekeepers, home healthcare workers, or others with access to their residence.

In Vaccaro’s case, the damage was limited to minor theft. However, if a thief can gain acesss to a family this easily, how much more difficult would it be for someone with a history of violence or sex offenses to get into the household?