Do you really know who you are connecting to on LinkedIn? I just want to share a LinkedIn invite I received this week that highlights something on LinkedIn, that you need to be aware of - impostors, fraudsters, spammers or whatever they choose to call themselves - do actually exist on the popular professional social network.
IMPORTANT UPDATE TO MY POST
The direction of this post has changed a little, to something equally alarming (for the person involved). A day after posting this article and highlighting what I thought was another one of the many fake spam LinkedIn accounts, who had invited me to connect on LinkedIn, I received a message and tweets from the real person in the pictures!
It turns out that they are of a well known professional speaker and executive career coach who has been targeted by someone. They were creating multiple fake profiles with the same photo of this person and then naming these duplicates with their contacts’ names from LinkedIn. Bizarre and potentially professionally damaging, as this person depends on their excellent reputation as a personal branding expert. She immediately contacted LinkedIn who have now removed all the fake profiles.
Obviously I have removed the pictures as requested and cleansed their name from the post. I think they have gone through enough grief since this has happened.
I have decided to leave the post up, as the subject is still valid, judging by the number of emails and messages I have had from people about the subject of fake profiles.
But now it has a different slant showing what people could be doing with your public LinkedIn profiles. Very disturbing indeed!
A tip to monitor if this happens to you, is to make sure you sign up to the excellent tool Mention and create a free search for your name etc. It will then notify you if and where your name etc is mentioned online and on social media in real-time.
This is the original invite I received in my email.
On the face of it, nothing sinister here - or is there? I clicked through to the profile and had a look. A basic profile, but with enough basic information to make it look like a legitimate LinkedIn profile. Three of my connections I know had connected with this person, giving some credibility to the profile. They had followed companies and joined groups. As I said, the profile looked credible until I saw the country of education that was listed. It just didn’t add up with the profile.
Now, of course people study at different universities around the world, but this got my curiosity. So I investigated a little…….
Fortunately this is where Google comes to the rescue with a simple image search (click on Images tab in a google search, then click on the camera icon and either upload an image or provide an image link), producing a results page that had six people with the same picture but different names. [The image has now been removed as requested by the individual concerned - see update above]
Obviously this would normally indicate an impostor! Fortunately LinkedIn have now deleted these profiles - probably because there were so many of them. But what if the person had been a little cleverer and just created that one profile and hadn’t made the mistake of the education they used?
I wonder, how many of your LinkedIn connections could be a fake impostor? You have connected with them so they can get access to see all your connections and your information (if you haven’t closed your connections off). Just a thought……. Maybe you don’t care, maybe you should?
While I don’t prescribe to some people’s LinkedIn mantra that you should only connect to people you have met and know, I do make sure that I do a little homework on people before I accept the many connections requests that arrive in my inbox!
How many LinkedIn impostors are you connected with?
Do you check people out first, or do you blindly accept their LinkedIn connection request when it arrives in your inbox?