I entered the recruiting industry about the same time social media started gaining popularity. From the beginning, it was impressed upon me the importance of having a strong LinkedIn network. So I began connecting with as many people as I could in various industries whom I felt would be good allies should I ever need to recruit in those industries. Additionally, I joined several groups, including several Open Networker groups, letting the LinkedIn community know that I welcomed invitations to connect. Naturally, as my network grew, so did the number of invitations I received. But as I continued to receive invitations to connect, it became obvious that many of these invitations were not from real people, but rather from fake LinkedIn profiles.
Why Do Users Create Fake Profiles?I have since read several articles about how and why people create fake LinkedIn profiles. There seem to be a number of reasons, and certainly none of them are good. After all, if their creators’ intentions were pure, they would not need fake profiles. Most likely, the primary reason is for the purpose of gathering data. Dozens of fake profiles will likely achieve more connections than one authentic profile, thus allowing the creator to gather e-mail addresses, Twitter handles and any other information that can be sold to spam sites, sites that promise to increase your connections or followers for a price, or worse, any pertinent info that can be used for identity theft.
The thing that I find most interesting, however, is that all the fake LinkedIn profiles from whom I receive connection invitations all share the same characteristics:
- The first and last names are always in all lowercase letters. About 50 percent of the time, there is a period directly before the last name.
- The profile has very few connections – usually less than 50, sometimes even less than 10.
- Personal info is very limited. There are almost always two or three previous employers listed, a position title, and no other information.
- The photo is always generic. It’s usually a picture of something other than a person, and when it is a person’s photo, it appears to be a photo taken from the internet of someone doing something other than posing for a photo.
- The profile is almost always from Pakistan. I have no idea why, but nearly every fake profile connection request I receive lists Pakistan as the location.