I have seen many people complain about the existence of fake profiles on LinkedIn. Well, I had always found profiles that seemed fishy in their lack of detail, but I am always of the “innocent until proven guilty” type and could not cry foul without absolute proof. Today I have that proof.
Because I am an open networker with a lot of connections, I tend to get my fair share of invites. Today I received several invites from people that I thought were fake, and I was able to, in essence, prove so after I connected by looking at their email address. Here is what they had in common:
- Their headline profile had either a “(LION)” or a “(TopLinked.com)” notation in them
- Their titles were either recruiters at very large and famous American corporations or owners of their own recruiting firms
- They all have amassed over 500 connections
- Although they indicate that they are “LIONs”, none of them were a member of ANY group, including TopLinked.com
- Their email addresses were numbered as in **[email protected], **[email protected], **[email protected]
So these are fake profiles that 1) pretended they were in large companies and in the recruiting industry to fool you and 2) pretended that they were open networkers in their headline profile to attract connections from other open networkers.
Why do fake profiles exist on LinkedIn? I recently wrote about someone who wanted to sell their LinkedIn account. Authentic email addresses from legitimate professionals, many of who make over six figures annually, are a prized commodity for many a company who want to market their goods to this demographic. These “spammers” or whoever you want to label them as are getting smarter in their methods and are being more successful, proven by the fact that they have already acquired over 500 connections from others.
Now, the minute one of these people putting up these fake profiles reads this blog post they will change their strategies and do something else. And there is nothing I can do about it. But I hope this is a wake up call to not only you all but to LinkedIn as well as to the lurking security issues out there. Most notably it shows that anyone can say they are a member of a company and then have the ability to connect with other “colleagues” without knowing their email address. It is in the best interest of each company, if not LinkedIn, that they are monitoring this. LinkedIn needs to come up with a mechanism to provide the HR organizations of companies the ability to filter people who say they work at a company, similar to the permission needed to join a LinkedIn group.
Will this make the fake profile issue go away? Absolutely not. But it may give a message to the “spammers” or whoever they are that they will not get automatic access to large company databases.
The other issue is for open networkers. Just because someone shows a “LION” or “TopLinked.com” membership does not mean that they are a true open networker. They could be here today and IDKing you tomorrow. Only connect with authentic people. Period.
I am always interested in having a conversation with LinkedIn about how to better their service. I believe that us open networkers with large connections are in an ideal position to be able to monitor fake profiles by committee and report back to LinkedIn. I welcome the creation of such an “Open Networkers for LinkedIn Committee” and can nominate quite a few great connectors for this purpose. Just call me and consider it done.