The dark side of networking- how to elude social engineering

Having a large network sure has its benefits, as we’ve explored in previous posts (, but it also has some inherent dangers- one is over-exposure (where people get sick of seeing your name pop up), but a more serious one is that being visible and connected makes you a prime target for scammers, and worse, criminals.

No guy named Evan Neal looks this good and lives in Shenzen… Fake profile it must  be


Why is that? Well, been well connected and visible means that, well, it’s easy to spot you. Every search will likely to result with your name in it. Secondly, having a large network is an asset which such negative people will seek to exploit. The bigger the network, the more lucrative you are to them. Third, since the risk of getting caught in the real world for a did one has committed in the virtual world is very low, so fraudsters play the big numbers’ game- shooting at all direction (again, since you have an extended network and operate on multiple platform you are more exposed).

What do they want- or what do you have to lose? You can lose a lot, that’s for sure. From social media accounts being held captives and released only after ransom, to using your online identity to trick your friends, to actually using your information to hack your private life- email, bank account and medical information (which leads to more extortion).

So how to avoid it? Well- the trick is not to allow the initial connection. Once someone becomes a member of your community of followers you are more likely to trust him thus making it easier for him to hoax you.

How to identify a fake request? Done using email (which is usually called SPAM or Phishing), the request to connect or obtain something from you would usually be very rudimentary. But done using the social network you’re using, especially LinkedIn (and to a lesser extent, Facebook), it can be trickier to identify and avoid.

The first rule is- trust your gut feeling. If something looks better than it should it usually isn’t real. If some gorgeous girl is trying to connect with you, and you’ve never met her before- it’s not for real. Or if the image of the guy doesn’t fit his name/ geography/ gender. No image at all is extra fishy- either this person doesn't care enough about his profile or he has something to hide. Anyway, don't bother. I don't connect to anyone (With the exception of people I know) people I know no

If you are still not sure- just run a google search on the image (using right click-search image.

Run Google image search


Here are the results:

Identified as a stock photo


Now, you're almost certain this person isn't real, or at least isn't using his actual photo which is very suspicious. If you want to further reduce the doubt, check the network of this person. If he's connected to a small number of people, the more likely he isn't for real.

If you are certain this is fake, do the community a favor and report this fraudulent attempt.


I have- now the person change his profile picture into a generic image :

One less scammer…

So, a quick summary-trust your gut feeling, act and don't fall in for too-good-to-be-true connection requests. Doing so consistently will reduce your chances of being scammed and ensure a safer environment for you and everyone in your network.

(The funny thing is- the text description is actually quite believable- He is Chinese and manages a local production facility. he wants to generate business and this is why he opened this account.  Other than the name and profile image- it all kind of checks out).



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