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Fake Profiles Pose Very Real Threats to the World of Talent Acquisition

Hiring top talent requires many skills. Tact, trust, and access to a great network, to name a few. LinkedIn is the world's largest professional network, with 810 million members in more than 200 countries and territories worldwide. It’s an excellent resource for connecting with coworkers, meeting and connecting with new people in your professional network, and job connections! 

Building your own informative LinkedIn profile and searching for potential candidates who have also built robust profiles is a central strategy to finding and engaging with passive talent. But it’s essential to make sure that the profiles you’re clicking on are real people and not fake profiles set up to scam your potential recruits or employees. A  dangerous new trend has made it harder for recruiters and job seekers to make valuable connections: Fake Profiles.

Some career websites have an anti-spam policy to deal with the consequences of these fake accounts; they will remove any suspicious profile and require further verification from users before it gets activated and searchable on the site.

Recruiting talent in the current market is challenging enough without the risks associated with fake profiles.  At a minimum, it can be a waste of time approaching people who don't exist, but counterfeit profiles can also open the door to deception and scamming you or your recruiters. Here are some tips on how to find out if the profiles you’re checking out are real humans.

LinkedIn provides several tips on how to spot fake profiles. Once you’ve identified a potential fake profile, report it immediately by going to the LinkedIn security page and selecting “report a phishing or spammer account” under Report a Problem with Their Account.

Fake profiles may invoke images of empty profile pages, no profile photo, or robotic direct messages. Unfortunately, today’s fake profiles (and the scammers behind them) are not so easy to identify. Your information is worth much more than it used to be, and scammers are committed to putting in the effort for a potential, nefarious gain or profit.

How do you hire top talent before your rival does? Some are opting to scam their way to intel. @RevealGlobal is exposing it all here: Click to Tweet

It’s also not just hackers in a basement creating these profiles. Legitimate companies are creating fake LinkedIn profiles to pose as candidates working in their field. Here’s what they’re after and how to fight back:

Harvesting Personal or Company Information Through LinkedIn

If you visit a company website and a popup appears asking for your email address, you may be willing to give it out in exchange for something like a discount, a free download, a newsletter, or an item you might value. But if that pop-up asked for your phone number, would you enter it? Your employer's name? How about your salary information? 

These companies know most people aren’t willingly giving up personal data to their sales team, and they’re frustrated by it. Instead, they create a personable profile to look like your average Joe/Jane working in a particular industry to connect with other people working in the same sector. 

Moreover, many are posing as fake recruiters to extract valuable personal information from unsuspecting job seekers (see below). 

It’s more likely that an individual will accept an invitation from another individual, especially someone within their same field. Accepting that request could mean your personal information is now in the hands of an enterprise harvesting information for sales purposes. Unfortunately, they’re going further.

Using LinkedIn to Spy on the Competition

Companies are also using fake LinkedIn profiles to pose as candidates to gain information on the competition. It’s a competitive job market! What’s the easiest way to hire top talent before your rival does? Figure out what they’re offering their candidates. 

These scammers are after names of competing agencies, salary ranges, hiring techniques, benefits information, and even a list of potential candidates. A play right out of the shady coach handbook; find out how the other team is winning and steal their ideas. 

Unethical, immoral fauxcruiters- and they’re about to offer you a job. @RevealGlobal’s latest article on fake LinkedIn profiles is here: Click to Tweet

Offering Fake Jobs Through LinkedIn

This type of behavior is unethical, of course. If these companies or their employees are caught, there could be severe repercussions to their reputation, if not legal consequences. But that’s not the worst crime lurking behind a fake LinkedIn profile. The worst of them actually want to offer you a job.

There are several cases in which the people behind these fake profiles pose as recruiters. What are these “fauxcruiters” doing? They’re offering candidates jobs in an attempt to access even more personal information. 

Here’s how it works:

  • The fauxcruiter reaches out to the candidate and expresses interest.
  • They set up an interview via the web and build trust with that candidate.
  • The candidate receives an offer and accepts the role.
  • Fauxcruiter asks for a deposit for work equipment to be sent to the candidate, bank information for direct deposit, social security number for a background check, mailing address, phone number, etc.

Scary, right? Unfortunately, these terrible acts do exist and the tricks are getting more elaborate. 

This account from HowToGeek, details a long, drawn-out process wherein the writer pretends to be an unsuspecting victim and offers up quite a few important (fake) details to the scammer. Here are some red flags they listed, alongside several that recruiters report getting from fake jobseeker profiles:

Fake Recruiters

Fake Jobseekers

Asks to communicate through Google Hangouts or text messaging.

Seems unfamiliar with standard industry terms.

Their language capability doesn’t match up to the profile on LinkedIn.

Refuses or stalls on phone or video interviews.

They ask for your login credentials for a website they don’t control.

Requests confidential or important company information.

They ask you to “deposit a company check” to your personal account and forward funds.

Asks for additional contacts in your department or company.

It sounds too good to be true. Look into similar positions at similar companies and see if the pay makes sense.

Balks at or refuses background checks, assessments or group interviews. 

How To Tackle Fake LinkedIn Profiles

LinkedIn’s automated defenses blocked 97.1% of all fake accounts they stopped during the January - June 2021 period, so they’re aware of the problem. But is it enough to just delete the fake accounts until more pop up in their place? 

This epidemic of scam profiles is further harming the credibility of the Talent Acquisition vertical - agencies as well as corporate recruiting. It’s creating additional challenges for recruiters to engage with and hire top talent. It leaves the average LinkedIn user incredibly vulnerable to a cyber scam under the guise of a great new opportunity.

It would be wise of this platform to adopt some features from similar networks in the form of validated account badges or verified profiles. If anyone can add a “Now Hiring” banner across their profile picture, how do we differentiate the real from the fauxcruiters?

What To Do?


  • Make sure your profile is complete with contact information, your employer's information, etc. Make it easy for candidates to reach you and confirm your employer.
  • Utilize Zoom, Skype, Teams, etc. meetings when appropriate. 
  • LinkedIn allows you the option to record a short video message where your profile photo appears.  This conveys a more trustworthy profile.  Example: https://www.linkedin.com/in/markfallred/ (wait 2-3 seconds for the video to play)
  • Offer your company’s main phone number with your extension when candidates return your call.

Individual Users:

  • Be wary of recruiters with little or vague information on their profiles.
  • Seek out mutual connections or connect with their company to confirm validity. 
  • Report any suspicious activity online.
  • Never provide your personal information or payment information through social media.

Online scams are not new, but in an environment where hiring and employment are already turned upside down, these scams are damaging to the industry and make it that much harder to hire top talent or trust a new connection. For more information on the changing recruiting industry, and tips for hiring in it, visit RevealGlobal.com

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