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Last year set a new record for fake profiles removed from the LinkedIn platform. This shows that fraudsters are dedicating more time and effort to scams that involve some use of LinkedIn. Fake LinkedIn account volume more than doubled, increasing 152% over 2021 to more than 80 million fake profiles removed in 2022.
Allure Security’s in-house team of takedown experts handles LinkedIn takedowns every day. With this article we will explain recent scams proliferating on LinkedIn and how they harm your brand’s reputation online. An upcoming blog post will dive deeper into responding to brand impersonations on LinkedIn with information about how to go about reporting and taking down fake accounts impersonating your brand or employees.
Not only do victims lose up to millions-of-dollars each to investment scams distributed over LinkedIn for example, but rampant brand impersonation also damages businesses and their reputations. As the FBI explained in a warning issued in February 2022, impersonated brands risk the following:
The resulting brand and reputational damage from such scams makes hiring more difficult and jeopardizes customer, partner, and investor trust. Time is of the essence in protecting your brand on LinkedIn. You want to find fake profiles impersonating your brand or employees as close to when they’re originally published as you can, and get them taken down as quickly as possible. Every minute a fake profile impersonating your brand remains online increases the number of people victimized and damage done to your brand.
A variety of different types of scams take place on LinkedIn including:
The majority of businesses come to Allure Security for help with fake profiles impersonating their company or employees (current or former) and facilitating fake job or investment scams. A number of state attorneys general have also recently issued warnings about “pig butchering” which can begin with a LinkedIn message from what turns out to be a fake profile.
Some businesses come to us for help with fake job postings impersonating their company on LinkedIn and devaluing their employer brand. The rise in remote work during the pandemic contributed to an increase in these scams whose objective is stealing personal or payment information or to engage in advance-fee fraud.
At a high level, here’s how these scams work:
Some of our financial services customers originally came to us concerned about investment scams occurring on social media platforms that impersonated their brand or individual financial advisors at their company. In a typical investment scam, the scammer will create a fake LinkedIn profile impersonating an authentic individual financial advisor at a particular firm.
The “advisor” will reach out to the victim with an investment opportunity, typically involving cryptocurrency. The scammer may originally direct the victim to a legitimate trading platform but eventually direct them to transfer funds to a scam website controlled by the attacker. At that point the money is lost.
Because Linkedin is a professional networking platform, victims sometimes view investment offers made via LinkedIn as more legitimate than an offer over Facebook or Twitter for example.
A pig butchering scam – a sort of mix between romance and investment scams – involves longer cons where a scammer nurtures a digital relationship with the victim before persuading them to invest in cryptocurrency.
It gets its name from the concept of fattening up a pig before slaughter. In this case, the “fattening up” is building the victim’s trust in the fraudster. A pig butchering scam can start on any social media platform, LinkedIn being just one example. A particularly distressing aspect of pig butchering scams is that sometimes the fraudsters themselves are victims of human trafficking.
For the most part, while a pig butchering scam can begin on LinkedIn, fraudsters will usually try to move the victim to conversing on another platform such as WhatsApp. To get a better feeling for how such a scam operates from the victim’s point of view, see this analysis.
If you have responsibility for protecting your brand online, review the following checklist of actions that will help you protect your brand and reputation on LinkedIn.
Posted by Sam Bakken