LinkedIn cloned accounts show our desire to connect to scammers

I regularly get requests to connect with people on LinkedIn. Sometimes they want to hire me, sometimes they want to follow my updates or try to access my other connections to connect on through.

But today I got a request from Omar Lavoie,  a commander in the Canadian Army. His credentials were very impressive indeed.

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Intrigued, I looked at his profile. I replied to his connection request and asked where we had met. I also connected with him out of pure curiosity and waited for his response to my initial message.

I then became suspicious that the ‘real’ Omer Lavoie’s account had been cloned and I was getting messages from someone quite different to the person I expected to hear from.

I received two emails in quick succession:

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This is not the sort of English I would expect from someone at this level in the Army. the grammar is poor and the terminology could be a lot better. I then received a response to my connection request email:

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Why on earth would a Commander in the Army change jobs to become a ‘self-employed non-governmental business personnel’?

I checked out Omer Lavoie on LinkedIn and i was not surprised at all to find two  Omer Lavoie accounts. the name was the same names and so were the profile images. One was the account I’d just connected to and another at my 3rd degree level connection.

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My 3rd level connection Omer had actually been working at 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade but he stopped that role in June 2012. My first level connection is doing that job now.

Brigadier General Lavoie has had his LinkedIn profile cloned by someone who is using his account profile to connect with a variety of people around the world. The cloned account has some strange connections – non of them connected to the army.

But I’m puzzled. Why should someone want to clone an existing account and use this account to reach out to my connections?  Why use someone well know, easily contactable and high profile?

Why use the naive language exhorting me to chat by Skype? The army has proper conferencing facilities. What is this person’s agenda for connecting with me? 

Perhaps it is someone bored and wanting to chat. Perhaps it is a crude attempt to mine contact information from LinkedIn. But whatever the motives. This Mr Lavoie has been blocked, reported to LinkedIn and blogged about.

Perhaps I should have taken them along a little further – just for the ride….

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

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2 thoughts on “LinkedIn cloned accounts show our desire to connect to scammers

  1. Lucy James

    Hi Eileen,

    I’ve had this happen, too, a few times now; similarly random Skype messages from unknown persons wanting to chat. Can’t think of any reason why someone would try to connect with me in this way, so I just ignore them and move on. Hadn’t thought to contact LinkedIn to have them blocked though. Maybe I should!

    Lucy

    1. eileenb Post author

      Lucy,
      It took two weeks of back and forwards emails – but finally the duplicate account has been deleted. It would have been so much easier is LinkedIn had a ‘Report abuse’ button.
      People want to connect with you to mine your contacts. Make sure you have your security settings checked and that the contacts that are yours can not be seen by anyone else. See: http://eileenbrown.wordpress.com/2013/05/10/are-you-being-used-for-your-connections-on-linkedin/ for information where to set this feature.

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