Captured Technology

Avoiding Scams on Linked In and Other Social Media Sites

Feb 03 2011

Social Media Sites

Where there are people, there are also con-artists seeking to separate people from their money. Scams and other cons have moved into the online social networking world like on Linked In, as well as other social media sites. While this list is not complete, it does cover many of the common areas of concern:

1. Job listings that are actually identity theft. Linked In is a frequently used tool by both recruiters and job seekers. By posing as a recruiter or legitimate company seeking employees, scammers can gain the personal information of job seekers for identity theft or sale to other thieves.

2. Intellectual property theft. An individual can pretend to be another for purposes of eliciting information. Given the professional nature of Linked In, this risk is higher than could occur on an entertainment related social networking site like Digg or MySpace. Requests for more information on a technology in development are more reasonable when it appears to come from a co-workers or someone in a related field. This intellectual property theft can be for political espionage or simply commercial gain.

3. Profiteering.  A profile may be created for a start up company, which then sends appeals seeking commercial investment. It may be an up and coming student who begs for money to help pay for schooling. It may be someone cracking an insecure password and logging in as that person, asking for money to be quickly wired so that they can fly home from overseas. All of these requests share the goal of playing upon relationships built up or shared on Linked In to get victims to part with their money.

4. Multi-Level Marketing. Multi-Level Marketing or MLM is not always a scam. Amway, Avon and other companies have successfully built large networks of sales people using multi-level marketing. Each salesperson’s revenue is shared by the company and the person who recruited them. This encourages salespeople to add even more salespeople. This can lead to far higher sales for the company. Unfortunately, there are MLM scams that simply involve paying an up-front membership fee or monthly fees for advice on selling the “system”, which is to recoup their costs by getting others to buy the “system”.

5. Spam. Spammers make money by distributing their ads far and wide. A growing trend is the act of setting up a profile on Linked In, paying individuals a few cents or few dollars to link to them on Linked In via crowd-sourcing tasks, and then gaining access to their “network” of links. Once a few hundred or thousand people are available to receive the messages, the scammer’s front social networking profile sends out blasts of emails. Complaints are issued, the fake profile is shut down, but then a new one is set up to repeat the process all over again.

About the author:

Claire Jarrett runs Marketing By Web, who offer PPC Marketing

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