LinkedIn is a social network for professional networking, seeking employment, and staying in touch with colleagues past and present. Like any social network, the platform has its fair share of users who are looking to scam, deceive, and defraud you if given half a chance.
Here are some of the most prevalent scams, and what you can do to avoid falling victim to them.
Fake Job Offers
It should come as no great surprise that the social network most popular with recruiters and job-seekers sees its fair share of employment-based scams. The fake job offer is a common tactic among scammers, who often use fake profiles linked to legitimate companies with no intention of paying the people they target.
These scammers may simply be after your labor, asking you to perform tasks for them as part of an onboarding process. They may target freelancers too, quoting competitive (some might say too good to be true) remuneration. In reality, they have no intent on paying you and will instead disappear when the time comes and move on to their next victim.
Some of these fake recruiters might not last that long. They may instead simply be interested in stealing your personal information, contact details, social security numbers, or even copies of your identity documents (like a passport or driving license) for identity fraud purposes.
Classic Recruitment Scams
The “classic” recruitment scam is a bit different to the fake job posting, but they operate in largely the same manner. A so-called recruiter will contact you with a competitive job offer, yet they have no real intention of paying you anything.
These scammers are largely interested in short-term gains so they will attempt to convince you to hand over money to process your application, pay for training or onboarding fees, or even front cash for equipment. Once you’ve sent money, the trail runs cold and the recruiter will move on to the next target.
This scam is common across all social networks (including Facebook and Twitter), is frequently sent via email or SMS, and may even appear in paper form on bulletin boards or posters. Be suspicious of any job offers out of the blue, especially “work from home” opportunities.
Phishing is the act of stealing your login information (and other details) using a fake web form. Scammers will set up fake login forms in a bid to convince you to log in to your account using your email and password. Thankfully the rise of two-factor authentication has helped reduce the amount of damage done by phishing, but it’s still a common scam found across the internet.
LinkedIn job listings in particular may be frequently used in phishing attempts. Our sister site Review Geek has covered this problem in the past, pointing out how the verification process for new accounts is virtually non-existent and that creating a convincing job posting under a company’s LinkedIn account is easy to do in most cases.
Some scammers will try to contact you directly via email or instant message to notify you that something is wrong with your account. They will direct you to a fake link that is used to steal login info or personal details (for “verification” purposes). Legitimate LinkedIn employees will never do this. If you can log in, your account is working just fine.
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Malware and Remote Access Scams
Malware is an ever-present threat on the internet. Scammers will often use the same tactics employed when phishing, sending unsolicited messages or emails with the goal of getting a recipient to click on a link in an email. This message may appear to be from a legitimate source like a recruiter or LinkedIn employee, and it may be formatted in a way that makes it look legitimate.
Unfortunately, clicking on the link could put your computer at risk. Not all devices or recipients will be vulnerable since different exploits target different operating systems, but it’s still not worth taking the chance. It’s not uncommon for these fraudulent links to point to ransomware, which holds your computer and data ransom until you pay to have it removed.
Often combined with phishing, malware is an ever-present threat on the internet. The scammer’s ultimate goal is to get you to click on a link that puts your computer at risk either through a browser exploit or by downloading software that can harm your system. You should always be wary of what you click in unsolicited messages, even if you run an antivirus program or use a Mac.
Other scammers using this technique may go the classic tech support scam route and claim there are problems with your account or computer that need to be fixed. The scam escalates when they ask you to install remote access software like TeamViewer which gives them control of your computer. The scammer can then hold your computer and all the data on it for ransom.
Any platform that allows users to communicate with one another is open to the full gamut of scams. While you might not think of using LinkedIn to find romance, dating scams are an ever-present threat. It also happens to be a scam that most people would never see themselves falling for.
But the scam appeals to the basic human desire for companionship that can appeal to anyone, regardless of gender. The scammer may appear genuine and caring, using flattery and feigning interest to get close to a potential victim. The scam evolves gradually, taking weeks or months to get victims to open up.
Before long the scammer will start to ask the victim for money, gifts, or even access to accounts and services. What makes the scam so insidious is that it can appear to be a genuine romance, with daily messages and texts, phone conversations, and promises to meet in person (that are frequently pushed back or fall through).
LinkedIn may be popular for this sort of scam as it allows scammers to find targets who list high-paying positions on their profiles. A list of past positions held by an individual may make it clear when someone has a lot of experience in their field and thus has climbed the job ladder into a position of financial security.
Things to Watch Out For
As with any online scam, there are some tell-tale signs to look out for. The obvious one is spelling mistakes and poor grammar. This could be the result of English not being the scammer’s first language, but it also can be a way of finding suitable targets who won’t immediately pick up on language problems (and thus are seen as easier targets).
If you’re approached about a job out of the blue, be suspicious. If you see “easy work from home” positions taped up in public, be suspicious. If you’re asked to provide money upfront for “processing” or training fees in a position that you haven’t applied for, assume it’s a scam.
Watch out for requests or listings from suspicious accounts that mirror genuine companies (like Apple or Facebook) which lack proper links back to those companies. Subtle spelling mistakes or suffixes like “Inc” or “Ltd” or “.com” after the company name can make the profile seem genuine. Investigate the profile properly before you engage.
You can also search the web for anyone who is contacting you about a job, whether they’re a third-party recruiter or working by a potential employer directly. If the name isn’t listed anywhere on a company website, be suspicious. You could even reach out to the company directly to verify the person is who they say they are.
Lastly, don’t be taken in by LinkedIn Premium accounts. Some scammers will attempt to buy themselves credibility using a premium account, which can be trialed for free for a month by anyone.
Watch Out for Facebook Scams, Too
The more popular the service, the more likely it is to become a target for scammers. We saw this happen with an influx of Telegram spam and a huge rise in unsolicited messages on Signal when the WhatsApp alternatives rose to popularity in 2021.
Facebook is another favorite of scammers, with a huge number of scams that target Facebook Marketplace alone. Stay vigilant, and remember that if something looks too good to be true then it almost certainly is.
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