By Thomas Ahearn, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) News Editor

A story about a student in Florida who searched his name using the search engine Google and found out he was wanted for murder shows why employers should not just depend solely on Google – or any other Internet search engine – to take the place of “real” pre-employment background checks when screening for information about job candidates.

According the a report from ABC News, the 18-year-old University of Florida student, Zachary Garcia, searched for himself online using the massively popular search engine Google and discovered that his name and photograph were connected to a felony murder that took place in September.

Officers with the Polk County (FL) Sheriff’s Office said Zachary Garcia was charged with murder in a news release, but the real murder suspect was named Zachery (spelled with an ‘e’) Garcia. The story was reported by several media outlets that also broadcast a driver’s license photo of the wrong Garcia (Zachary, with an ‘a’) in connection with the alleged murder, ABC News reports. In another strange twist, a spokesman with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office said the two men with very similar names also happened to share the same day of birth, although they were born one year apart.

ABC News also reports that the Polk County sheriff sent the student a formal letter apologizing for the error and vowed to correct the misinformation. The sheriff also said that while the news release named the wrong Garcia, official booking documents never contained the same error.

In the story, Zachary Garcia, a freshman, said he hopes the search engine screw-up does not affect his future since employers may background check his name online and may not hire him because of the mix-up. He said he is speaking out about what happened to him because he wants others to know that it could happen to them: “The Internet is not always right.”

This story is proof positive why employers cannot rely only on cheap, quick, and convenient Internet searches using Google or other search engines in place of “real” background checks from companies like Employment Screening Resources (ESR), which is accredited by the National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC). ESR uses trained background check specialists that research criminal and civil court records, driving records, credit checks, social security number traces, employment references, educational verifications, and more.

For more information about “real” background checks, and how employers can find the most accurate and current data about job candidates, visit the Employment Screening Resources website at

Founded in 1996 in the San Francisco Bay area, Employment Screening Resources (ESR) is the company that wrote the book on background checks with ‘The Safe Hiring Manual’ by ESR founder and President Lester Rosen. Employment Screening Resources is accredited by The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS®) Background Screening Credentialing Council (BSCC) for proving compliance with the Background Screening Agency Accreditation Program (BSAAP). For more information about Employment Screening Resources, visit or contact Jared Callahan, ESR Director of Client Relations and Business Development, at 415.898.0044 or [email protected].