Edward Johnson, PMP, CSM

Trusted Advisor

Elaborate LinkedIn Ghost Profiles

Edward Johnson, PMP®, CSM® April 28

As you peruse people you may want to connect with, you should take a slightly deeper dive into their background. I am sure what you are thinking is to read their profile and see if they have some sort of history. In a way, you would be correct.

You look to see if they have some sort of past. You know what I mean. That cursory review is not enough, not enough at all. Take a look at whether or not they past actually progresses in a logical pattern. After all, moving from line cook to Director of IT is not a normal course. You look at their education and see if those degrees seem real. You should even check out the connections, recommendations and even their causes. Usually something gives it away. So, you move on.

Then there are those that slip through the cracks. They snag a few connections and slowly build up the façade. Acquiring more connections. Through using the simple premise of "guilt by association" they start to reach out to distant connections to draw more people into the ruse. Then they add new jobs to the profile over time and make small adjustments to the timelines. They even create jobs held at companies that have gone out of business or, simply, fake to begin with. Another place where there are no strings that need to be tied. So, the profile grows and becomes more robust.

Then they take to another level by building relationships. Some with other fake profiles, but many with real ones. You may even see one of your own connections caught in the web of lies. They are connected to the profile and may have even given a blind recommendation. This is why I am not a fan of recommendations. They are simple things you can click on and a lot of people do without actually meeting the person or speaking with them at all. Now look back at this nice, dense profile. It is chock full of information that, on the surface, are substantive.

Now you are sitting there thinking this is a pain in the tail. You are having to review profiles as if you work in Human Resources. Indeed, it is work. Now, let me share one more tool for your toolbox: Google image searching. That's right! You read that correctly. These scammers are going to great lengths to build these profiles. They steal an image of some unsuspecting person from almost anywhere. I actually had to report a profile that used a photo of a lesser known Hollywood actor. This is actually an old trick that was used on dating sites.

If you want to test your skills at reviewing profiles, take a look at this set and try to figure out which one is fake.

  1. https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=AB4AABH3FAABIZuxgWxIebCP80-il0iVxz4ON2I&auth
  2. https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=ADEAAAJm3oMBm7YbBDIpxKfGSOsQRbwesALhIpc

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