6 tips to spotting a LinkedIn scammer

If LinkedIn doesn’t do something about fake profiles and scams soon, many of us will jump ship

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(Final part of the 3 part series What could kill LinkedIn)

ATLANTA, GA Oct 22, 2015/ Troy Media/ – Sadly, LinkedIn’s hunger for satisfying its shareholders’ need for increased valuation is keeping the patient from excising the deadly growth. If something isn’t done, I see an untimely death in the not-to-distant future.

What are you talking about?

LinkedIn has been infiltrated with scammers, spammers and con artists. The scammers prey on victims when they are most vulnerable who, while in transition, are frustrated to the point of falling for “secrets”; “miracles”; “tricks” and “guarantees” that they would never consider under normal circumstances. This means you.

I’m too smart to fall for something like that!

That’s what I thought too . . .

My first encounter with a scam post happened a few years ago (unfortunately, LinkedIn is doing NOTHING to end the practice). I commented on a discussion in one of my groups. You have probably seen the post. It’s the Sneaky Job Interview “Trick” that pops up all the time. A friend warned me that it seemed fishy (thanks Ian) so I did a bit of research.

The creator of this “Guaranteed Secret Career Document” seems to be a ghost. For someone whose system is always being lauded on LinkedIn, it’s a bit curious that he has no LinkedIn presence whatsoever.

Sniff, sniff, sniff . . . What’s that smell?

The promoter who (almost) caught me was someone named Billy Overmann. If Billy is a real person, I’ll eat my hat. First, “Billy” (not Billie) was female. Not only that, but Billy’s profile states she is a Personnel Manager and her industry is Human Resources. Interesting that someone in HR only had three connections. When you had three connections, did you start discussions?

Other incongruities included that Billy was an active member of 50 groups, all of which had in excess of 10,000 members (another telltale sign). But my favourite thing about Billy was that she lived in Honolulu and was wearing the most lovely heavy red wool winter coat I have ever seen.

They must have had a cold front blow through the islands. Brrrrrrrrrrrrr!

Right. So this one encounter with my own stupidity was the starting point for me railing against LinkedIn’s total lack of a stance against Fake profiles. But it gets worse.

As moderator for a couple of big groups, I used to be able to “kill” fake people and their scams every day. One Father’s Day, as I was killing-off fake people, I realized that a lazy scammer was using the picture of the British actor James Nesbitt. Jennifer Anniston’s image and Shutterstock photos have also been used.

What does this all mean to me?

At best, something like this is merely someone trying to sell a product in a “resourceful manner.” If that’s the person’s contention, my question would be, “Why do you have to use fictitious individuals to hawk your product(s)?”

It’s a total stink-burger!

But there more dangerous possibilities . . .

The link could contain a Trojan virus to infect your computer and possibly gain access to your personal and/or financial information. Another possibility could be that you buy the “system,” pay for it with a credit card which would give them access to your credit card information including your security code.

What is LinkedIn doing about this?

Recent changes it has made to groups is only making things more difficult. In its infinite wisdom, moderators are now disallowed from placing the scam profiles in moderation (so they can’t post). We are now forced fill out a multi-sectioned form if we want to notify LinkedIn Customer Service of a fake profile (Dis-Service, if you ask me). Most people don’t bother because nothing seems to get done. In any event, here’s what I send and what you should look for to avoid the scammers:

This profile is almost certainly a fake in an attempt to bilk LinkedIn members. Why do I believe this is a fake profile attempting to scam members?

  1. Profile is incomplete
  2. An HR professional with only ___ connections
    3. Member of nearly the maximum number of groups
  3. Groups are highly disparate in subject matter
  4. The only correlation among the groups is that they have in excess of 10,000 members
  5. Discussion has a link in it

Any group member can approve a membership request which will give the major spammers a free reign to post their crud. Group moderators are already complaining!

Don’t get me wrong, most discussion topics and their links are perfectly safe and the writers are on the up-and-up, but not always. My suggestion is to research the background of the “person” starting a discussion based on the criteria above.

Despite its current value to candidates and recruiters, if LinkedIn doesn’t do something about fake profiles and scams soon, many of us will jump ship . . . and what value will there then be for its shareholders?

Al Smith is co-author of the Amazon Top Rated book, HIRED! Paths to Employment in the Social Media Era, is a Keynote Speaker, Career Coach and Resume Writer.

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