The Fraud Examiner

The Scammers Playground: How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Fake LinkedIn Profiles

By Ryan Hubbs, CFE, CIA, CCEP, CCSA, PHR

President, Houston ACFE Chapter

LinkedIn is a great business tool for professionals. It is the digital business card, Rolodex and Who’s Who all rolled in to one. It helps us connect and stay connected, find new opportunities and find new talent. Those are its good points. The dark side to LinkedIn, and other professional social media sites, is that it is becoming a scammer’s playground where fake personas, fake opportunities, and identity theft and phishing scams are becoming more prevalent and more creative. From stolen photos to copied résumés, it is becoming more difficult to truly certify if that new connection really exists or not. The following article will highlight information that is usually posted within a LinkedIn profile and provide some tips on determining whether the information is fictitious or not. No one piece of information, or lack of information, can be the silver bullet in uncovering a fake profile. As a word of caution: some scammers have perfected the art of fake profile creation, and some profiles are nearly impossible to discern as to whether they are real or not.

This LinkedIn analysis starts from a recently received LinkedIn message from a Ms. Darlene Thomas, Regional HR Consultant from Phoenix, Arizona. She appears professional, although she appears to have a somewhat clueless look on her face. Since I don’t want to judge a book by its cover, I move along.

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