LinkedIn, just like Facebook and Twitter, has a problem with fake accounts. But they’re in denial about it.
Lately I have been getting multiple invitations to connect, all using seemingly legitimate in-platform tools, from highly dubious accounts. What arouses suspicion is that they all look the same, with the following characteristics:
They arrive in your inbox as Inmail (meaning the invitation to connect is from someone outside your network).
They are always from female users, with a profile photo of an attractive young woman who could have stepped right out of a Korean television drama.
The invitations come from profiles that have no connections and zero posts, as if the account was just created hours ago.
The introductions use the same key messages: they just joined LinkedIn, your profile is remarkable and they want to be friends.
The phraseology is often clumsy, as if written by Google Translate. (“Your information is very good?” “It is a good platform to improve cognition?”) They like to use affable phrases like “my friend” (even though you’ve never met). And flattery is also often involved, referring to you as a person of importance or an “elite.”
If you do not respond, within a couple of hours, the invitation to connect disappears and the person’s account is also no longer accessible. Even if you search for the person by name, her profile has simply vanished.
My suspicion is that these are phishing farms, where accounts are created by bots and spammed to LinkedIn users at random. If you don’t answer, the invitation is quickly withdrawn so as not to hit the maximum allocation of Inmails per month. Once you respond, the system identifies you as a “live” mark and a human then initiates a dialogue, hoping to extract useful information. I have received as many as three to four in a single day.
What can you do?
Sadly, not much. I have made it a standard practice to report these dubious invitations to LinkedIn. Click on the three dots at the top of your Inbox, select “Report” and then “It’s Scam or Spam.” This will block the account from contacting you again and, in theory, flag the offending account as suspicious.
Unfortunately, the results of doing this over and over appears to yield limited results. After dozens of such reports, I finally got a response from LinkedIn’s Trust & Safety team. They concluded that such invitations “did not violate our Professional Community Policies.”
In short, if LinkedIn can’t even identify these types of behaviors on their platform as spurious, don’t expect the problem to be fixed anytime soon.
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