How to spot a fake profile on LinkedIn
You might be surprised to learn that there are fake profiles on LinkedIn, not many in my experience but they do exist and they are in fact reasonably easy to spot. For example …
Firstly it is worth pausing to think why these exist and what people get from it, the answer is sadly simple, they are after your data. It might be your personal data that you share every time you connect with someone on LinkedIn, it might be that they want to track your activity to see who you interact with, who you know, who you work with and more.
Just goes to prove that connecting with all is not necessarily the best strategy in the age of data and identity theft.
The good news is that these profiles are often easy to spot and in my experience tend to come in waves. Not one at a time but three plus over a week.
You will often find that you will have some younger attractive man (for women users) or woman (for male users) send you a connection invite out of the blue. The picture often look like the ones you might find as a stock image (as many often are!), you know the cheesy smile and the bright white teeth types. They are often of a younger generation and often you will find some disparity with picture and age / experience from their profile too.
Can I offer you up a suggestion if you’re not sure? Simply do a reverse image search using something like TinEye (www.tineye.com) or a Google Reverse Image Search (https://www.google.co.uk/imghp) as these often highlight the recurrence or original image that has been used. See below as an example:
Another good trick is to search for an image of the real person using company and job title and see what you get, other than the potential fake single image, this will often give you the true persons image and identity.
I don’t know about you but even I don’t get that many invites from the executive team of the largest corporations in the world …. and they instantly make me suspicious. Why would the Finance Director of Coca Cola send you a connection invite out of the blue? (Warning!)
You also often find that their profiles have multiple focusses such as finance directors that used to be sales directors or vice versa. In reality operating at that level many stay within their specialist fields as expertise is narrow and deep.
The number of connections is also often a giveaway as they often have a hundred or two and with someone of that level of experience or that seniority it should ring alarm bells (Warning!). You can also learn a lot about the potential by looking at who you know that has connected to them and by how discerning those people are. So for example all those that will connect with anyone are often your shared connections (Warning!) and this should ring even more alarm bells for your cautious approach.
This is one of those occasions that endorsements can really help you as often they have very few endorsements, despite hundred plus connections, and often there are a few people endorsing them for everything (good quality control there then – Warning!) trying to drive more endorsements through social guilt.
Or the lack of. Often the people in these roles will be advanced users of LinkedIn and exploiting the functionality to a good level to necessitate an upgrade and hence I am on guard the moment I don’t see a premium upgrade, makes me even more nervous and cautious to check and qualify more. Fake profile users never seem to buy upgrades.
The other dimension I have noted is that fake profile users rarely join groups of any type or of any volume, not always the case but often and this should alert you to being vigilant before you give it all away on LinkedIn.
Generally speaking gut feel, given the above suggestions, often proves to be right more often than not, so go with it, if you’re not sure don’t spam them but reply to the invitation and say “thanks, why don’t we talk ..” or similar and see if they prove you wrong and come back to you. Not an experience I have had yet .. but “Amelia” might prove me wrong.
I hope this equips you better to spot a fake profile and if I have slated Amelia here do please feel free to drop me a message and I’d be delighted to remove your image from here – after all you might just be the model from the stock photograph, but I suspect I won’t hear anything.