Remember getting excited when someone would send you a connection request on LinkedIn. There was the potential of catching up with a past colleague or friend you had lost touch with, maybe even a business opportunity. Being an early adopter of LinkedIn in 2004 I would coach many friends to join, network and throw out their Rolodex in lieu of this modern platform.
Today is a different story as my LinkedIn inbox in inundated with requests from fake profiles all with profile images that are oddly not professional, work histories that are very short and most notable – they all work for themselves at a web development company with only one employee. Initially, I accepted a few of these requests and was instantly solicited with the email below:
How are you?
As a leading web design and development firm, We deliver elegant solutions for a wide range of websites and web applications tailored to meet the unique needs of your company. We offer premium services at reasonable costs, saving 3x of digital production cost for our partner companies without compromising on the quality of work. Our hourly rate is $25/hr. Below find a few of our website samples:
Let’s explore how we can specifically help your business. Are you available for a quick call next week?
Channeling my inner James Veitch I responded to a few of these solicitations and entertained a phone call – or two. As you may have guessed already, the person I spoke with was not what the profile suggested.
A quick Google image search on the profile picture showed me that Sam Roger is really named Mark – not a wordpress developer but a GOP political consultant – Catholic Husband and Father as his twitter profile suggests below.
Low budget, low quality offshore firms are creating these fake profiles em masse in an effort to not just make some quick wins in selling development at on-shore prices but also to sell your LinkedIn information after you connect with them. Believe me when I say that my spam filters have been working overtime since I accepted ONE of these requests.
Since day one LinkedIn has suggested we do not accept requests from people we don’t know. While it is doubtful I know even 20% of my 9,000 connections I do make it a point to no longer accept connection requests from those who look even remotely suspicious. To avoid getting your inbox filled with spam I would recommend the following:
Always click on the profile picture and right click to do a Google search of the image. If it comes back as a stock image – flag the profile so LinkedIn can remove it.
Look at the amount of effort put into the profile, these spammers are all about quantity over quality so they leave out a lot things a real person would feel important – like describing where they have worked.
If you have doubts – don’t accept – its as simple as that. In the 15 years I have been on LinkedIn, precisely ZERO people have been offended by me not accepting.
Lastly, some of the newer profiles I have seen use clearly fake Americanized names.
I spoke with a fairly high ranking official at LinkedIn and it seems like they are not aware of this issue. She suggested that I flag the profile, while I made the suggestion that they do a deeper dive into the problem before it gets out of hand. While writing this post I received yet another connection request from a WordPress developer named – of all things – “Nate Berkus”, yesterday was a developer named Emmy Rossum. I guess we all now know what she is doing now that she left the cast of Shameless.