Portrait(s) of a Spammer

By: Viveka Wednesday August 1, 2012 23 comments Tags: LinkedIn Spam, LinkedIn Spammers

What to look for in the newest rash of LinkedIn Spammers

Are all HR Directors so attractive?

I recently wrote a post on Spammers on LinkedIn, and decided I needed to follow it up with the detailed specifics of what a spammers profile might look like.

I am an open networker (you might know us as LIONs) which means I will usually accept an invitation from anyone - even folks I don't know.  But even I have become significantly more cautious.  I no longer accept invitations from:


  • People without photos

  • People without anything in their professional headline section

  • People with a company name instead of their name and or

  • People with a logo instead of a picture.

Besides being suspicious, using a company name and logo goes against LinkedIn User Agreement.  And if you want to connect with me - show me who you are and what you do!

Ms. Attractive HR Director

And I certainly no longer accept invitations from - well - let's call her Ms. Attractive HR Director.  Why?  Because I recently caught on to a pattern.  See if you see it too.  (Just FYI - I received all these invitations literally within minutes of each other at about 3 AM this morning)

What in these pictures is JUST like the other?

Did you see a pattern?

  • Attractive female

  • HR Director (sometimes of a company, sometimes not)

  • Has had two HR jobs

  • Went to school from 2005 or 6 to 2008

  • Do not have customized URLs

  • Many are members of at least 20-30 groups (Avoid those groups for spam)

My heart is breaking..

My heart is breaking and its not for these sultry beauties!  Although I do feel sorry for legitimate attractive female HR directors because you might soon have a harder time connecting on Linkedin.  No - my heart is breaking because LinkedIn continues to allow these spammers - probably some icky dude in Hoboken (nothing against Hoboken - it just seemed to fit in the sentence) build fake profiles that render LinkedIn much less useful for those of us who use and love it.  I'm already seriously curtailing my connections, even if that means less visibility, and I am sure I have ignored and reported for spam some legitimate peeps by accident.

But if LinkedIn isn't going to protect itself, then we must protect our network!

Reporting Spam

When you get a suspect invitation, you can always just click on "Report Spam" as seen below

Or - if you want to make sure they are spammers, click on their profile.  If they fall into the pattern above, then click on the report button.  I choose "Misrepresentation" and then add this note: "I have been invited to connect by yet another female HR director who has had two jobs, went to school from 2005-2008 and has nothing other than groups in her profile.  I do not feel this is a legitimate profile."

If you recognize yourself in any of these images then please let me know.  We'll Skyoe or use Hookflash and I will apologize in person.  But I don't think I am going to hear from anyone.

Please share this  post with others so we can all protect ourselves and our network from these nasty skeezy icky spambots!  And make LinkedIn a safe place for attractive HR recruiters everywhere :))

Well - I'm off to delete and report these "ladies" and about 50 others from my inbox.  Just call me a social media narc!

SPAM UPDATE!  Equal Opportunity!

Well, we don't want to pick on just the lovely ladies!  The newest rash of spam seems to be coming from a rather handsome batch of studly Internet Marketing guys.  You know, they can't all Pete Cashmore!

SPAM dudes




About the Author: Viveka

Viveka is author of LinkedIn Marketing: An Hour a Day and is known internationally as the “LinkedIn Expert”.
CEO of Linked Into Business, she also hosts the biggest LinkedIn chat on Twitter.  Forbes has listed her as a top social media influencer for three years running, and she has been cited in Ragan, CNN, Forbes, Mashable, Simple Living, Bloomberg, LinkedIn's Small Business Site and "The Sophisticated Marketer's Guide to LinkedIn, The Miami Herald, Social Media Today and The Social Media Examiner!

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This is very good :) I'll be featuring it.

- Lisa Cash Hanson

Viveka, I guess it's inevitable that as LinkedIn gets bigger then the amount of spammers increases too. I run a number of groups that have recently been infiltrated with people promoting cut price jumpers and Louis Vuitton bags. One quick way I use to check peoples photos is to do a Google reverse image search. Save the picture to your photos then click Google images. In the search bar you will see a camera icon where you can upload the photo of the pretty lady. It seems that Shirl Rasmussen (the first example you give) is in fact Anna, 24 from Russia on www.cuteonly.com http://bit.ly/NVzzoN Now either Shirl has changed her name, successfully found a husband and moved to Virginia or she is an ick bot..

- Martin Lee

Good article but I have to disagree... some of those profile photos are not attractive at all!

- James

Spam on LinkedIn is a serious problem. At the last company I worked for it was common practice for people to have several profiles in order to get around the 50 groups per profile limit. You can imagine how engaged they were with each of the 100+ groups they were a member of. Sadly many LinkedIn groups are now approaching junk status as they are overwhelmed by spammers.

- Adi Gaskell

Nice job Viveka. Spammers drive me nuts but it seems even worse when I see it on LinkedIn. I grew up in Hoboken so I always use "some dude in Romania" (no offense to Romanians). I guess it's from seeing the Discover card commercials with "Peggy". :)

- Victor Canada

Linkedin seems to allow multiple varieties of spammers. Discussions & jobs for some groups can have over a hundred job items and in some cases there can be 20 or 30 duplicates. Invitations from someone I've never heard of and with a minimal profile who wants to link with me because they really admire me. Job postings from someone who promises to tailor positions to our requirements. Just realized how much time I could spend venting, so I'll just move on to something more rewarding.

- CP

Success breeds assets, which need to be protected. You share your an open networker (you might know us as LIONs). In LA we call people like this wanna bee's. When we see 500+ we skip to the next applicant. Ivy league business schools are select for a reason. Letting anyone into LinkedIn is, pure stupidity.

- Smith

Great article Viveka! I too a LION and will be extra careful now I have read your blog.

- Alnoor Damji

Completely agree! These spammers are filling up my groups with links to useless job sites. I report their profiles when I have time...

- James Stewart

It is also interesting that their connection accounts are within a couple of each other as well. Now and then I get batches of invites within very short periods of times with very similar connection accounts and profile structure.

- Steve Cassady

This reminds me of batches of Twitter followers I get from time to time. All have similar profile descriptions, presumably assembled based on something I tweeted. Thanks for reporting 'em as fast as you find 'em!

- Steve (JoeBugBuster) Case

Are they spamming though? Most of these types of Fake Profiles are recruiters, or rather are FOR recruiters; bots to extract email addressed from a wider range of candidates than would connect with a real recruiters profile. They won't be limited to HR folks, though may indeed still have the obligatory pretty lady photo! Honestly, I get more direct spam from 'legitimate' folks whom I connect to but don't know (I'm also an open networker in that sense, though I long ago reluctantly closed my connections for browsing) than from fake profiles. Fake profiles are more of a problem in groups. I work hard to identify and never allow them into the groups I manage. The observations you've made above are great, but I expect this is a tactic of a single data extraction company/individual. The style of Fake Profiles may rhyme, but are likely to be as varied as there are demographic to aim for! Of course the pretty picture is a dead give away ;-)

- Jason

Nice article, I had a batch of these attempting to connect a few weeks ago. It was amazing how many of them stated that had been to Harvard in their education, but could not spell or had appalling grammar. Quite funny, when you realize that their blatant attempt at deception had been instrumental in quickly exposing their lies.

- Simon Hamer

I do not like the ones with "sexy" pics

- lisa

Also notable, they all started as HR Managers. That's a pretty surprising title for someone straight out of school at a firm like Goldman Sachs. Sad to see this turning into a problem on one of the last places where spam hasn't become dominant (groups and answers aside).

- Eric Wittlake

Thank you so much for letting me know about the reverse image search, Martin - I will be adding your into to my blog post!

- VivekaVonRosen

LOL - What - how can you not like Britt Ecklund????

- VivekaVonRosen

I doubt they are really HR directors. My guess is that chose that title because there are so many our of work folks and who doesn't want to know a good HR director or recruiter these days. Before I caught on to the patter, I accepted a few of these "ladies" and the email address I use for LinkedIn started getting sweetheart scam emails... "Oh I see you are handsome man and I am well read woman also interested very in sex. Are you also interested very in sex? maybe we could talk and see if we can be having conversation good and sex together." Which - I guess could be a job offer.... :)

- VivekaVonRosen

I find it interesting that 50% of the comments above were left by people who have no pictures. I agree with you, though. I always look up the profiles of folks who want to "friend" me on Linkedin, Facebook, etc. While a complete professional profile is critical, be careful of people who provide too much personal info (either they are lying or stupid). I also only consider those with common friends or affiliations.

- Jon

This is fascinating. Thanks for sharing. I'll be double checking my connections today. I have noticed that most of the spammers in groups are beautiful women. I've also made the same rules you listed above; I also don't accept connections with people who don't seem to have a complete profile. Kimberly

- Kimberly, The Fur Mom

I find it interesting that Jon (no pic) noticed that 50% have no pic. Wake up folks.You may be legitimate, but the rest of us just can't trust the no pic profiles anymore.

- James (jim) Gaddy

I have seen this type of invite. I unfortunately accepted one and will be removing them from my connections. It is good to be more aware who is scoping you out and why. Thanks for the heads up.

- Susan Cooper

Wow Viveka - this is great stuff! I found myself staring at those profile trying to see what you were seeing and it's pretty keen that you caught on to their patterns so quickly. I hate that we have to worry about LinkedIn spam too but I suppose that's the way of the world!

- Jim Dougherty