Identifying fake LinkedIn members

Being a group owner of a 100.000+ LinkedIn member group I’ve seen a lot of spam / fake accounts and block (‘Flag’) many spam accounts every day.

Fake accounts are used by spammers who are after your email address by posting discussions or jobs in groups, with links to websites where you need to fill in a form to get access to a free report or when you want to apply for a job. Also SEO companies use these tactics to increase a webpage ranking (backlinking) such as job-search-success-secrets.com, ewebinars.com, linkedinsuccess, careerconfidential.com, myjobstar.com, employmentcafe.blogspot.com, employmenthunter.org, searchjoboffers.com, careerbuildersonline.com. Additionally business owners create profiles that are not personal but are used for promotion only.

Remember, LinkedIn is a professional PERSONAL network and for this reason I’ve blocked 5400 members already in my group.  But any individual member on LinkedIn has the ability to flag content on LinkedIn that they believe is inaccurate or a misrepresentation of whatever the underlying information is about, whether that’s an individual’s profile, a company profile, et cetera. A list of 30 don’ts can be found in the LinkedIn User Agreement.

There are a few obvious and not so obvious tactics used by fake profilers. Here are 10 red flags for identifying fake LinkedIn Profiles:

  1. lower case first and last name
  2. Headlines or Job Titles that are very generic e.g. Independent Marketing Professional.
  3. Stock photo. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is!
  4. No start/end dates or duration in each job is the same e.g. 2 years and 3 months
  5. Generic company name, often without company icon (which normally leads to a company profile on LinkedIn)
  6. Promoting websites with generic names (a popular SEO backlinking strategy)
  7. Default Public Profile URL, in combination with other red flags
  8. Minimally filled out profile with a large number of groups
  9. A twitter account with one tweet; Join my LinkedIn network + link
  10. Out of your network with zero or very few connections

Be aware that there are complex fake profiles with lots of connections, education completed, skills specified, real summaries, etcetera but these identities may have been stolen from real people.

Please spread the word, share this article on LinkedIn and Flag a 100% fake profile for Spam (under the Public Profile URL on the bottom right). If the Flag icon isn’t visible, you can contact LinkedIn with the following information:

  • The full name on the profile.
  • The profile page’s URL (copy the link from your browser).

LinkedIn will suspend the account after enough people flag the profile.

About Jacco Valkenburg

Jacco Valkenburg is an international recruitment expert, trainer and author of two books about LinkedIn. He has more than 16 years experience in global recruitment strategies and execution spanning numerous countries for leading companies. As founder of Recruit2 and Recruiter University he provides companies with recruitment and talent management solutions and expertise. His mission is helping companies ‘from good to great staffing’.

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