LinkedIn is probably the last place you’d expect to find a romance scam, but these days romance scams are everywhere.
The reality is that romance scams happen on just about every social media platform that exists, and they’re particularly prevalent on sites that have direct messaging functions. After all, romance scams essentially originated with Yahoo Messenger and other message boards in the early days of the internet.
LinkedIn is an interesting choice for romance scammers because it’s not a dating site. It’s not even a social media site per se, rather it’s a place for building a community of professionals hoping to connect to opportunities in the business world. It’s a place where users build profiles that contain a lot of personal information about where they work and where they once worked, along with school information and a fair amount of personal information that can be mined from the information provided.
What makes LinkedIn an idea hunting ground for scammers is that people who use LinkedIn are usually considered trusted sources, so when a user receives a private message he believes that it is legitimate.
Things To Know About LinkedIn Romance Scams
LinkedIn romance scams 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 very quickly. One moment you’re asking about interests and the next moment the scammer is professing love for you.
Since LinkedIn isn’t a dating site, the romance scams tend to stick out like sore thumbs if for no other reason than the fact that they don’t belong there. Your LinkedIn profile doesn’t list whether you’re married or single, so these questions will come from left field and make very little sense. Scammers tend to cast really big nets to see if they get any bites, so they’re used to rejection. All they need is one big fish to stay in production.
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.
Ways To Protect Yourself from LinkedIn Dating Scams
There’s no point in trying to avoid scammers by staying away from social media platforms altogether. The reality is that people are exposed to scams on a daily basis online and offline. It’s the way of the world.
The basic principle to staying safe online is that you never want to give away personal information that you wouldn’t give to someone you meet on the street. Anyone who contacts you asking for money or bank account information to verify your identity is a scammer. It’s that simple.
Keep It Professional
When it comes to LinkedIn romance scams, the scammers will contact you about things that have nothing to do with your profession. If someone contacts you and asks if you’re married, you know they’re phishing for information. If you keep talking to them, you’re asking for trouble.
Anyone contacting you via LinkedIn should be trying to make professional connections, not trying to pick up a new boyfriend or girlfriend. The obvious exception here is when you reconnect with someone from your past through the site and you make a conscious decision to get together. This is very different than striking up a relationship with a total stranger.
Watch For Fake Profiles
Not all LinkedIn user accounts are verified, so you can’t use verified accounts to sort through and filter out potential scammers. However, when you see names that sound extremely generic, like “John Smith”, or a profile photo looks too good to be true, then you need to question whether the person contacting you is a real person.
If you suspect that someone is contacting you with a fake profile, Google their profile picture and see if the picture comes up anywhere else online. If it’s a stock photo or a photo stolen from another site or social media account, then you’re dealing with a scammer.
Be sure to report suspected fake profiles to LinkedIn so that they can be disabled.
Too Much Information
Another way to protect yourself from romance scammers is to be careful about how much information you share on social media. Lots of folks enjoy sharing vacation photos and updates about their lives online, and when it comes to LinkedIn, it’s easy for a scammer to look up your LinkedIn profile, connect to your Facebook account and start messaging you with information that makes the scammer seem too good to be true.
Again, it’s important to note that you’re not on LinkedIn for romance, so when someone sends a private message complimenting you on something you shared on social media, the red flags should be going up immediately.
Be sure to think about how much information you’re sharing on social media. This is good advice in general, because you never know who might be looking at it.
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day the big takeaway about romance scams is that they’re everywhere. From Facebook and Twitter, to LinkedIn and Instagram, and to any and every kind of social media site that allows messages to be sent to users, romance scammers are lurking. They don’t just prey upon dating sites anymore because people meet other people on social media just as much as they do on actual dating sites.
With LinkedIn, keep it professional. You’re not there to find romance, so anyone who approaches you for that reason is very likely a scammer.The best way to stay safe is to be safe. Be vigilant. Report suspicious accounts and never give away personal information to strangers. You wouldn’t do it with a person you meet on the street, so why do it online?
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