Convicted felon slips through the cracks on caregiver website

  • 1/7/2015
  • Kevin Rosenquist
The Boston Globe ran an alarming article about a woman, Stephanie Lee Fox, who had multiple convictions for fraud and larceny yet was still able to register as a nanny on According to the website you can request a background check on a caregiver after reviewing their profile, a logical first step when using a website to find someone who will be spending time alone with your children. But clearly their process failed in this case and, according to the article, in several other cases.

Grace and C. Grover Heintz hired Fox from the site. They claim they paid $79 for the more comprehensive background check which came back clean. Fox then stole almost $300,000 from their checking account. She pleaded guilty to the charges but it was after she was caught that the Heintzes found out she had a lengthy criminal record; a fact that surprised them since they paid for what they thought was a legitimate background check.

Fox had multiple convictions, not just arrests. Those should and do show up on even the most basic background checks, when done properly. Why were these not reported? Even if she gave a fake address the Social Security Number Verification that should have been ordered as part of the check should have located her real address, according to the website’s background checks section. They use an outside vendor to run the checks for them and the obvious question is did they run the check they were supposed to. According to the article hasn’t said what vendor they used.

But there’s another, more glaring aspect to their business practices that is puzzling. Doesn’t it seem irresponsible to allow people to list themselves on a caregiver website without running a background check on them from the start? I get that it’s a cost they are trying to pass on to the consumer. But why would you want to have convicted felons on your site at all? If I was looking for care, ran a background check on a caregiver, and it came back with a felony or misdemeanor conviction I would be hesitant to use the website at all. Just the fact that they are not vetting the people they allow on their site questions the integrity of what they do as a whole.

I’m not presuming to know their business model. But there has got to be another way to pass along the cost of a background check to the consumer. In order to ensure the safety of your clients and their loved ones dangerous people should not be on the site at all. If the company itself had run a proper background check on Fox she never would have been allowed on the site and never would have been in the Heintzes home.

The safety section of their website states that “background checks can be helpful and uncover potential warning signs about candidates; however, background checks are not always 100% accurate or complete and are run based on the information provided by the member.” This is only partially true. While they are correct in saying a background check isn’t going to guarantee a person is trustworthy it shouldn’t be run only by the information a person gives them. A Social Security Trace and Verification will show the name associated with that SSN. So if Fox’s trace had come back as John Smith then red flags are obviously raised. Or, if she gave a fake address, the trace should have shown the real ones which they then should have been able to run for criminal records.

Clearly there are some holes in their practices. But overall this story shows again the importance of running thorough background checks properly.