Yesterday I received a LinkedIn connection invitation from a chap called Ahmed Mensa who apparently lives in Ghana and the Principal Architect for the Ghana Ministry of works. Interesting I thought primarily because I love doing business in emerging markets and actually consider it one of my real key strengths and USP’s. So I accepted it out of curiosity.
In less than 5 minutes Ahmed demonstrated just how keen he was to do business and his overwhelming generosity with the following email:
“I write to request your co-operation in my desire to find a foreign partner who will assist me in the relocation and Transfer of some amount of money in excess of Us$24 Million which i have made available for investment purpose abroad in other to secure the future of my children after retirement.”
Suffice to say I immediately blocked him and reported this to LinkedIn. Simple enough to do, so the guy at the other end has my email address and my phone number, little harm in that.
This morning I received another invitation to connect from a chap in Vietnam called James Hoang (click on his name to see the profile) – This guy had taken an entirely different approach. When I went to view his profile I was immediately struck by the remarkable likeness of his photo to none other than the legendary Italian footballer Andrea Pirlo. In fact so remarkable that when I did a quick Google Search using the image URL it was indeed Andrea Pirlo who came up in the search results.
So why is Andrea Pirlo masquerading as James Hoang in Vietnam? Why does Ahmed Mensa have millions of dollars to invest in the UK and why does he want to lodge it in my bank account?
LinkedIn is becoming a rather dark and dangerous place and as an organisation they really need to sort this particular problem out and quickly. There is plenty of evidence of fake profiles being utilised to spread trojans and malware – read this example from The Guardian some 3 years or so ago – The Guardian So my advice is to be careful, look for recommendations, look for activity and regular status updates and always do a basic google search on the profile photo itself at the very least.