I’ve seen a real rise in the number of fake LinkedIn profiles recently. There’s a wealth of signals that can give them away (language used, connection patterns, location discrepancies etc.) – but what’s the fastest way to check out whether invites are actually fake profiles on LinkedIn? Inspired by Oscar‘s work on sourcing talent with image searching, I reckon the Google plugin for image search is the best bet! Here’s the 30 second guide:
When the next connection invite comes through, if you want to check it out quickly, click through to the user’s profile and right-click on the profile picture. You’ll see this option (or similar) on the menu.
Go check out your search results! The vast majority of genuine LinkedIn users care about their profile picture. It’s most likely a picture of them that appears on other sites that mention them by name too (Twitter, Facebook etc). However, most fakers I’ve spotted simply grab a stock photo from somewhere. The one used in this (real) example is a fashion model – so when I check the search results, I see page after page showing women’s fashion collections on Pinterest – and not a single profile on any site anywhere of someone using that shot as a profile pic.
Different people obviously have different uses for LinkedIn – amongst my network, many are recruiters so in order to increase network reach will accept almost any incoming invitation. On the face of it, it seems harmless. Spammy maybe, but harmless. Having played with this technique for a few weeks, I beg to differ. The third one I checked was again a stock photo – but rather than throwing up a list of stock photos or similar, the same picture was reported as being attached to a string of 419 scammers.
I’ve seen reports of 419’ers on LinkedIn before – but I guess they’re becoming more commonplace. All I need to do now is find a way to clean up my network from years of accepting connections where perhaps more care would have been wise!