“Recruited” on LinkedIn? Beware the Latest Job Scam

Older woman job hunting onlineOnline job websites are often used to pitch work that doesn’t work out. Posing as legitimate employers, scammers post ads for non-existent employment – and usually include at least one of the typical tip-offs to a job scam rip-off.

Most often, it’s requiring upfront fees for supposed background or credit checks, training or supplies. After paying, applicants are told they didn’t get the job…assuming they hear anything. Fraudsters seek your birth date, Social Security number or other sensitive info (that shouldn’t be on your resume) for possible identity theft. Or, after being “hired” with no face-to-face interview, it’s your bank account number for alleged direct deposit of paychecks.

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The latest ruse: Scammers are posing as employment recruiters on the popular employment social network LinkedIn. It’s a convincing con because legitimate recruiters use LinkedIn for out-of-the-blue contact of potential job-seekers among the website’s 400 million members.

“Using these fake LinkedIn accounts, scammers are able to establish a sense of credibility among professionals in order to initiate further connections,” reports security-software manufacturer Symantec (maker of Norton products). The goal is getting your contact information and that of those in your business network – “including personal and professional email addresses as well as phone numbers” which can be used for spear-phishing emails.

Unlike “regular” phishing – general “Dear Customer” correspondence sent en masse (with hopes that a tiny fraction of recipients respond) – spear-phishing is specific, including your name and other personal details for more convincing emails…say, posing a credit card company and asking for your account number or other ruses to glean identity theft-worthy data.

Noting LinkedIn as “a prime target for scammers looking to connect with professionals,” this month’s Symantec report follows others by cybersecurity experts at F-Secure and Dell SecureWorks. So if you’re a LinkedIn member who gets “recruited,” take it with a grain of salt – and know that, at least for now, scam-centric fake accounts follow a specific pattern (and can be reported to LinkedIn):

  1. They primarily use photos of women pulled from stock image sites or stolen from legit LinkedIn profiles or other social networks.
  2. They copy text from profiles of real professionals. To check this, copy-and-paste a section of text into a search engine to see where else it appears, and from whom.
  3. Commonly used keywords include “Reservoir Engineer,” “Exploration Manager,” and “Cargo Securement Training,” notes Symantec. Fake recruiter accounts also typically pitch jobs in Logistics and Oil and Gas industries.


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For information about other scams, sign up for the Fraud Watch Network. You’ll receive free email alerts with tips and resources to help you spot and avoid identity theft and fraud, and gain access to a network of experts, law enforcement and people in your community who will keep you up to date on the latest scams in your area.

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