I was working at my job, you know as the CCIE Agent, and one day I was looking for CCIEs to present to Channel Partners in Africa and South Africa. I was working through my database when I received an email in response to an issue of the CCIE Flyer. The CCIE Manny Ego (not his real name) asked me to help introduce him to some of the Channel Partners I was providing candidates to. Then unbidden he sent me an email with attached images of various certifications. I looked through them and one particular one Manny sent me, drew my attention. This was a CCIE certificate.
In all my years I had never had a CCIE send me an image of his certificate.
I was surprised by a couple of things. The Cisco logo was not the current one in use by Cisco. Then when looking at the number on the document I noticed it seemed a bit high for the ones being issued in February 2009. So, M (my Girl Friday), looked up the number and name using the verification tool. She got nothing, no hits on it. So it could have been because the name was wrong or the number was wrong. So as you already may expect, I called Monica (my best friend at Cisco) and she told me the number had not been issued yet.
I have been amazed at the traffic I am seeing these days in requests for CCIEs. When speaking and meeting with so many of them I find they all have the same determination to be the best they can be. Some come from small environments where they have been the go-to guy or larger environments where they have been a team resource while still others are independent contractors or bank vice presidents. I even met a married pair of CCIEs in Greece this past month. As people go the many real CCIEs I know are a very honest bunch of people and I am happy to say they have been very open with me discussing personal and professional aspects of their lives.
Then there are some CCIEs who are made of the wrong stuff.
Like the ones I have spoken with who could not tell me what the seven layers of the OSI model are or the layer names. Those CCIEs who could not be understood even in their own native languages and one memorable CCIE who sent me pictures of herself in a bikini! But a CCIE who was not a CCIE? I was shocked at his boldness. This topped the guy who claimed to be a quad-CCIE and then yelled at me for asking for his CCIE number. He actually said I should trust him and when I asked for the number that was stepping over the line! He said he would never allow me to represent him anywhere ever again. Turns out I checked on him and it was definitely a ruse but, lying about being a CCIE is one thing and lying about being a quad-CCIE is another; yet sending me counterfeit documents takes the cake.
At first I was just as open with Manny Ego as I am with anyone who I encounter and accepted him at face value. His name and number were posted on the CCIE Hall of Fame website even. Then he sent me jpegs of certifications and one was a CCIE document with his name on it. In Africa this may have fooled a few companies, but anyone with access to the CCIE Verification Tool can easily verify a CCIE by name and number. I had never had any CCIE send me their certificates before so I was suspicious.
After I had the call with Monica (you know my best friend at Cisco) and asked her to check. She told me the number was not issued yet so the CCIE was a fake. I informed the fake CCIE that he should stop posing as a CCIE because eventually he would get into a lot of hot water.
His email response:
sorry for that I have also learned that the number I had gotten was not genuine as I did ask from Cisco, and sorry that my profile was still showing that, actually after what happened when I was asking for your help, I did not follow with removing the number from my profile, sorry once more and I have in fact withdrawn it(sorry) you would call probably tomorrow as I am in a village with no network coverage/limited coverage and the network will be breaking.
Thanks for your kindness
Then I saw his LinkedIn profile this past month and it had his claim of being a CCIE in it with the false number he had used with me! I contacted Monica again (you know my best friend at Cisco) and she got busy.
His email response:
Sorry for this but I really hope we shall have a conversation tomorrow, sorry once more, and may I have your kindness and I am also removing my LinkedIn profile..its ok you can go ahead without my participation but at least save my reputation I am sorry I have become a victim of counterfeit not because of my making. Thanks
By this time the number had been issued to a real CCIE in Canada. Oh boy, Monica (you know my best friend at Cisco) was mad! I was surprised by the swiftness on the side of Cisco’s team in this regard. Mr. Ego received a letter from Cisco which banned him for life from ever taking a certification test or receiving a certification from Cisco.
His email response to my query about where he received his certification:
I thought we could have a telephone conversation, I tried calling you yesterday but could not go thru, seems we have temporary problems with LDI connections, briefly, what happened was I registered thru a private academy who actually told me there was going to be a mobile lab in South Africa thru Dubai lab, which I complied with
His email about the letter from Cisco:
I am not myself now, imagine I have gotten a letter from Cisco, banning me from taking any Cisco courses; I look forward to speaking to you.
The fake CCIE in question is now banned for life from taking Cisco certification tests at all. If his current employer, Duplicate Feline (not the real company name) tries to associate his fake number they will find he is an imposter and he will lose his job. I will not go as far as to make that call to them myself, even though they are a client of mine. I will let Karma play out here and await the inevitable outcome. I have asked for the fake CCIE to answer some questions for me so maybe we will get lucky and I will have his side of the story soon. I also reached out to the real CCIE issued this same number in Canada and he is thinking about it?
WARNING: I am going on a rant here.
Back in 2008 when I helped two CCIEs get their CCIE numbers released by an unscrupulous Silver channel partner the experience felt good. Both CCIEs as you may recall, had to leave the Middle East to look for employment due to the heavy handed methods used by this company. I even have a recording of a conversation of Attitude Systems’ management representative in his car as he harangued one of the CCIEs he was holding hostage. Then another company using similar techniques was brought to my attention this past month and again I had an ugly situation on my hands. What happened was Cisco revoked both of these companies’ channel partner status. Another victory was scored for the good guys.
I Googled “Image CCIE Certification” at M’s suggestion, (thanks M) and my old friend Martin Voelk’s CCIE Certificate was the first item I found. So I sent him an email and informed him of what I had just gone through. In fact I think this was the very image used by Manny Ego to fabricate his counterfeit certificate. The old Cisco logo was on it and with a little Photo Shop work it is easy to see that I could make my own CCIE certificate if I chose to. (Heck I could even put my beautiful smiling face on it!) He did what any honest hard working CCIE would do, after getting mad he pulled the image from the web. If you are a proud CCIE with your certificate posted on the web think twice about what it could be used for.
Think about it. If you were looking for a job that required a CCIE and some counterfeit certification landed another person the job would you be upset? The role this imposter filled was one I had listed and presented real CCIEs for. My assistant, M is diligent about checking names and numbers through the Cisco verification tool and seems to relish saying, “I told you so.” But I fell for the fake CCIE’s story and his need for my help. I really did not torture him as many of you might think I should or did but his final email to me was probably just another lie;
sorry, I had been admitted on intensive care, it was so sudden on me, I shall be able to speak to you next week on Tuesday 26 of may , as per now I am just very weak, I believe by next week I will have come out of it.
Thanks for your patience and understanding.
Ouch banned for life!
Listen Children, the moral of the story is, don’t lie to uncle Eman about being a CCIE!!!
Now get back to work damn it!