Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

LinkedIn scam trends uncovered: study sheds light on sophisticated tactics employed by fraudsters

A cybersecurity expert provides advice on how to stay safe and explains LinkedIn scams in detail

According to the newest research by NordLayer, a network security solution for businesses, LinkedIn is the go-to place for professional scams. The investigation revealed the most prominent schemes on how criminals get sensitive information about companies and their employees and gain money or even get employees to leave their companies. Fake job offers, phishing attacks, connection requests, messages with suspicious links, and phony tech support are the most common techniques used.

Carlos Salas, a cybersecurity expert at NordLayer, says: “Social media platforms, including LinkedIn, have seen significant growth in user numbers and engagement over the years. With more people joining and using these platforms, scammers have a larger pool of potential victims.”More than half of businesses in the UK had their brands impersonated

By understanding the evolving landscape of LinkedIn scams, job seekers and employers can take proactive measures to safeguard their personal and professional information. According to the research, one of the most common ways scammers fool people is by falsely using a company's name. Half of the companies in the UK confirmed that someone was using the organization’s brand name to profit.

Salas explains the logic: “LinkedIn is a professional networking platform, and users often trust interactions with legitimate companies and organizations. By using a well-known or reputable company name, scammers can gain the trust of potential victims more quickly.”

He also adds: “Always check for the company details such as the company name, logo, and other information to match what the individual or company claims. Look for discrepancies or inconsistencies.”

What are the most prominent LinkedIn scam tactics among UK businesses?

As professionals increasingly rely on LinkedIn for career advancement and networking purposes, it is crucial to be aware of the various scam tactics employed by cybercriminals. These scams range from phishing attacks aimed at stealing personal information such as login credentials or financial data to more sophisticated schemes involving identity theft.

Salas from NordLayer overviews the most popular scam tactics among UK businesses:

Phishing messages: Scammers may send messages pretending to be a recruiter, potential employer, or business partner, asking their victim to click on a malicious link or download an attachment. These links may lead to fake login pages or malware-infected files. Up to 47% of people in the UK experienced that.

Fake job offers: Scammers might create fake job postings that seem attractive to job seekers. When applicants show interest, they may ask for personal information, bank details, or an upfront payment for job processing or training. Up to 63% of Brits experienced such scams.

Malicious attachments and links: Scammers may send seemingly harmless documents or files that contain malware or ransomware. These attachments could exploit vulnerabilities in your computer or network, leading to data breaches or financial losses. People can also face a request to connect from an unknown person with a suspicious link in the message. Nearly 37% of people confirmed that they received something like that.

Fake tech support: Scammers might pretend to be LinkedIn technical support representatives and claim an issue with their victim’s account requires immediate attention. They may then try to obtain the login credentials or personal information. Up to 38% of responders claimed to have experienced that.

Get-rich-quick offer: Scammers may approach users with promises of high returns through cryptocurrency or foreign exchange trading. They often claim to have secret strategies or insider information to guarantee profits. In reality, they may ask users to invest money with them or sign up for suspicious trading platforms, leading to potential financial losses. This was reported by 43% of victims.

Invitation to participate in a fake survey: Scammers might create fake surveys, quizzes, or contests to collect personal data from unsuspecting users. Nearly 18% of scams account for that.

How to stay safe from LinkedIn scams

Salas highlights the need for education: “Social media scams will remain a prominent issue for many years, and with the help of AI, such scams will be even more convincing and professional. Critical thinking and education are essential here. Stay informed about the latest scams, phishing techniques, and online threats. Educate your employees about common scams and how to recognize suspicious activities. Regular training and awareness programs can help everyone stay alert and cautious.”  

In addition, various tools can come in handy: “Ensure that you and your employees use strong, unique passwords for all accounts. Implement 2FA wherever possible because it adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second verification form to log in.”

LinkedIn spokesperson: “Scams or fraudulent activity are a clear violation of our policies and we’re always working to stay ahead and keep our members safe. While scammers are continually trying new and more sophisticated tactics, we use technology including artificial intelligence paired with teams of experts to stop fraudulent activity – 95% of detected fake accounts and around 99% of detected spam and scams are removed by our teams before members ever see it. 

We’ve also launched a series of new features including an optional advanced safety feature that, when enabled, displays a warning on LinkedIn messages with high-risk content, such as a request to move the conversation away from LinkedIn, as this could be a sign of a scam. We also encourage our members to report anything that might violate our Professional Community Policies so we can investigate. You can learn more about the work we do to keep LinkedIn trusted and professional here.”