LinkedIn Crypto Fraud: As FBI Deems It ‘Significant Threat,’ What Should You Watch Out For?

Studio shot of golden Bitcoin virtual currency on the laptop.
Andrey Danilovich / iStock.com

Just as cryptocurrencies continue to grow in popularity, so do related scams to steal a person’s money. And no site is immune to their unlawful intent, be it a family-run, small business website or even an established market leader and employment-centric online service that specializes in career development and professional networking such as LinkedIn.

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According to the FBI, fraudsters using LinkedIn to lure and steal money from consumers via cryptocurrency investments pose a “significant threat” to both the platform and its users alike. In an exclusive interview with CBNC, Sean Ragan — the FBI’s special agent in charge of the San Francisco and Sacramento field offices — claimed that the agency has seen a significant rise in investment-related fraud.

Most employment scams use enticing, hard-to-detect approaches to target people who’ve been out of work in order to collect personal information from employment forms or resumes on job websites like Indeed or Zip Recruiter. And other scams promise guaranteed or easy income, for a price.

However, Ragan, the FBI and LinkedIn are tracking a particular scam that involves assuming the guise of professional employers. They register a fake profile and reaching out to a LinkedIn consumer, then the grifter offers the victim an opportunity to make money from crypto investments. Or convince them to switch their investments over to scam crypto holding sites in time.

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Using established sites is nothing new. The more legitimate a criminal can make their scheme appear, the better. People trust LinkedIn. It is a reputable business networking platform which, unfortunately, is still susceptible to swindlers.

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“So the criminals, that’s how they make money, that’s what they focus their time and attention on,” Ragan said. “And they are always thinking about different ways to victimize people, victimize companies. And they spend their time doing their homework, defining their goals and their strategies, and their tools and tactics that they use,” per CNBC.

LinkedIn has recognized the increase that Ragan speaks of, but stated that it remains ever-vigilant in fighting fraud on its site, telling CNBC, “We enforce our policies, which are very clear: fraudulent activity, including financial scams, are not allowed on LinkedIn.” They added, “We work every day to keep our members safe, and this includes investing in automated and manual defenses to detect and address fake accounts, false information, and suspected fraud.”

According to a LinkedIn half-yearly report on fraud, 32 million phony accounts were removed from the site in 2021. Between July and December 2021, 96% of all fake accounts, including 11.9 million at registration and 4.4 million proactively restricted, were stopped by automatic defense measures, per CNBC.

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Additionally, LinkedIn claimed that its automated defenses caught 70.8 million, 99.1% of spam and scams, in that same time period.

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Still, that hasn’t stopped fraudsters from trying and adapting their methods to fleece unsuspecting site users. Victims speaking with CNBC said they have lost between $200,000 and $1.6 million to thieves, and possibly their trust in LinkedIn, too.

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About the Author

David Nadelle is a freelance editor and writer based in Ottawa, Canada. After working in the energy industry for 18 years, he decided to change careers in 2016 and concentrate full-time on all aspects of writing. He recently completed a technical communication diploma and holds previous university degrees in journalism, sociology and criminology. David has covered a wide variety of financial and lifestyle topics for numerous publications and has experience copywriting for the retail industry.

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