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Fraud on career networks like LinkedIn and Xing

On platforms like LinkedIn, Xing, and similar professional networks, fraudsters frequently publish fake profiles. Users are often unaware that career-oriented platforms can also be exploited by scammers. Therefore, even on networks perceived as reputable, it's crucial to approach new contacts with a healthy dose of skepticism.

Read this article to find out what types of scams to avoid.

Why is there fraud on job sites?

Unlike Facebook, Instagram or other social media platforms that focus on entertainment, LinkedIn and Xing are known for their professional networking capabilities, ideally facilitating career advancement. With the ease of building a Europe-wide contact list, users tend to approach new connections with less suspicion than in other contexts. However, not everyone realises that career networks can also be exploited by scammers looking to take advantage of users' finances through fake profiles or phishing schemes. Often, these scammers pose as reputable companies or senior employees, particularly from HR departments, in order to capitalise on your new connections.

These scams are often found on LinkedIn and similar platforms

There is a wide variety of scams on social networking sites, showing the boundless imagination of fraudsters. However, they all have one thing in common: victims never see their money again once it has been transferred, and personal information may also be misused. Recognising these tactics allows individuals to react quickly and cut off contact. The following are particularly common on relevant career portals:

Fake job postings

Job seekers are recruited by scammers through supposed job advertisements. They are asked to open accounts in their own name at various banks and to receive and transfer money through these accounts. This opportunity is often promoted as a quick and easy way to earn a substantial income. It's presented as uncomplicated and highly flexible, with no fixed working hours or location requirements. However, the reality is that these money transfers are used for money laundering purposes. The scam is often disguised as taking part in a market research project, with titles such as 'mystery shopper' or 'product tester' common among the scammers. Those who participate not only risk being scammed, but may also unwittingly become involved in criminal activity.

Love scam

Users are contacted by an attractive person to get to know each other and exchange experiences. The new contact seems interesting because it is usually someone in a good professional position or someone with an attractive profile picture.The scammers behind these messages then work to build an emotional bond with their target. Once they have established trust, they begin to ask for money under false pretences. They often fabricate stories of sudden financial emergencies, claiming unexpected personal or professional crises. Alternatively, they may suggest joint plans that require financial contributions, such as booking a holiday or buying a plane ticket for a supposed meeting. In reality, victims of these scams never meet the person they've been communicating with.

Technical support scam

If there are purported issues with a user account on the network, the message should be handled with caution. Often, it's a phishing attack: Deceptively authentic replicas of the provider's official communications urge you to click on a link, initiate a download, make a call, log in, or provide other data. Typically, this is fraudulent activity. To be on the safe side, contact customer service through a trusted channel. Users can verify the legitimacy of the contact information by visiting the vendor's website, where they can find details such as a phone number or email address for real technical support or customer service. It's important to access these channels through familiar means and to check the URL that appears in the browser address bar.

Advance fee scam

Fraudsters attempt to convince users that they will receive a large sum of money if they only invest a relatively small amount. The pretext is entirely fabricated: an alleged inheritance, an investment opportunity, a charitable cause, a favorable loan... However, the "small" upfront payment of several hundred or thousand euros never returns. Instead, eager victims are lured into making further payments. Pretexts such as due taxes or processing fees, purportedly required before larger sums can be disbursed, exist solely in the imaginations of the fraudsters.

Hot tip

Once the fraudsters have built a personal connection with their victim, they unveil an ostensibly secret and fail-safe scheme for quick wealth accumulation. They assert to have already delved into the venture - be it foreign currency, cryptocurrency, funds, stocks, or another financial avenue. Additionally, they may propose facilitating a special connection with an advisor. However, the newfound acquaintance shares the lucrative tip solely for their own enrichment. Regrettably, the fraud victim never recovers their funds.

How can I recognize fraud in social networks?

If you're eager to make new connections online, but you're wary of approaching strangers, these tips can help you spot scams:

  • Stay vigilant: If you receive a suspicious message on platforms like LinkedIn, Xing or others, avoid clicking on it immediately. Instead, do a separate search on Google or another search engine. For example, legitimate job offers are usually listed on various job boards and the company's official website.
  • Verify offers: Always visit the company's website to verify offers. Look for vacancies under the 'Careers' or 'Jobs' section. Similarly, products advertised on social media should have a presence on the company's website. Check the website's imprint and review the terms and conditions to ensure that all the necessary information is provided. A lack of transparency may indicate an unreliable provider, so proceed with caution.
  • Research financial products: If financial products are being promoted on social media, check the company's website. Find out which regulator regulates them. Look for any warnings about the company or the advertised product from the relevant authorities.
  • Check new contacts: Perform a basic check on new contacts. Assess how long their profile has been active and how many connections they have. Look for common connections and consistency in profile content. Any inconsistencies should raise red flags.
  • Use reverse image search: Use reverse image search to expose fake profiles if you have any suspicions.
  • Be careful with personal information: Be wary of requests for personal information, money, or requests to switch contact mediums. Err on the side of caution and end the contact if necessary.

What can you do if you are a victim of social networking fraud?

If you think you've been scammed, here's what you should do:

  • Stop all contact with the perpetrator.
  • Report the user to the platform or the relevant authorities.
  • Preserve evidence by taking screenshots, exporting chat conversations and saving emails.
  • If you suspect malware on your PC or smartphone, make sure your antivirus is active and up to date. Download any necessary updates and run a thorough scan of your device.
  • Don't enter passwords or perform online banking activities on your device until you're sure it's free of malware.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Innovation Council and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Executive Agency (EISMEA). Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.

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