Social media scams are nothing new and in today’s digital era where social media platforms are filled with scammers trying to take everything you own, the professional networking site, LinkedIn, is no exception. LinkedIn has become such a valuable platform for many individuals, giving you the opportunity to connect with potential business partners and colleagues for career growth and unmatchable opportunities. Unfortunately, LinkedIn is often looked upon as a safe place which tends to bring the guard down of many giving the scammer the ultimate advantage. Many users that are on LinkedIn are familiar with some of the scams that take place such as fake accounts, phishing attacks and even fake job offers. The one that usually catches everyone off guard are romance scams, where the hacker tries all their quick and easy tactics to exploit your emotions for financial gain. For most, LinkedIn is the last place you might look for love but due to LinkedIn being one of the largest social media platforms on the market scammers will try and lure you in. As Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, the holiday that is usually filled with love and happiness can also be filled with heartbreak and distraught and as romance scams continue to be a growing problem, being aware of certain signs is the first step in being successful against a romance scammer.
How do Romance scams on LinkedIn work and how to Spot Them?
Romance scams seem to all start the same way and usually end up like the others. Romance scammers on LinkedIn usually have very little to do with the fact that it is a site that links together business professionals. The most common way that a LinkedIn romance scam begins is when a user receives a private message or a connection request. The person making the request likely won’t have an obvious reason to connect with your account, and when you start asking questions the phishing begins. The scammer will ask if you’re married, or if you’re looking for a relationship. In some cases, this happens fairly quickly. One moment you’re asking about interests and the next moment the scammer is professing their love for you. Since LinkedIn isn’t a dating site, romance scams tend to stick out like sore thumbs. Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t list whether you’re married or single, so these questions will come from left field and start to make very little sense. Scammers tend to cast really big nets to see if they get any bites, so they’re used to rejection. The basic rule here is that if someone starts asking a lot of personal questions in private messages on LinkedIn, you’re dealing with a scammer. Shut it down and report it right away. Here are some red flags that can help you spot a romance scammer on LinkedIn:
Keep it professional. LinkedIn is a platform for building your professional network and career opportunities. If someone contacts you with personal or intimate questions, such as your marital status or relationship preferences, be wary and do not respond.
Watch for fake profiles. Scammers may create fake accounts with stolen photos and information to lure you in. Check the profile for signs of authenticity, such as the number of connections, posts, endorsements, and recommendations. You can also do a reverse image search to see if the photo is used elsewhere.
Do not share too much information. Scammers may try to get you to reveal personal or financial details that they can use to blackmail or extort you. Do not send money, bank account details, or personal documents to anyone you have not met in person. Do not agree to transfer money for someone else.
Do not move the conversation to another platform. Scammers may ask you to switch to a different messaging method, such as WhatsApp, email, or phone, to avoid detection and verification. Stay on LinkedIn and report any suspicious activity to the site administrators.
Seek a second opinion. If you are unsure about someone you met online, talk to a trusted friend or family member about your new online relationship. They may notice potential red flags that you have not. You can also contact a local law enforcement agency or a victim support group for advice and assistance.
Always Be Aware
LinkedIn is a professional networking site, not a dating site. However, some scammers use it to target unsuspecting users and trick them into sending money or personal information. They create fake profiles, often using stolen photos of celebrities or models, to send flattering messages or connection requests. They may claim to be in a distant or dangerous situation that requires financial help or offer to share their wealth or expertise. They may also threaten to expose or blackmail their victims with intimate photos or videos which can lead too emotional and financial harm. To avoid falling prey to them, users should never send money or gifts to someone they have not met in person, and always verify the identity and story of their online partners. They should also report any suspicious activity to LinkedIn, the FTC, or the FBI. Romance scammers on LinkedIn are not only criminals, but also impostors who abuse the trust and reputation of the platform. By being aware and vigilant, users can protect themselves and their professional network from these fraudsters.