Six tricks to spot a fake LinkedIn Profile


Today I got yet another fake LinkedIn profile or at least I’m fairly sure that it is fake.  You decide.  Is Stephanie Gordon from the Imagine Group real?



OK, first flag is the attractive woman on a white background.  The headshot screams professional photo shoot and/or stock photography.  But let’s look at the profile (which may be removed by the time you are reading this.  If not, see the archive image screen-grab at the bottom of this column.

So, that leads me to the first two ways to spot a fake LinkedIn profile:

1) attractive woman or man (not enough by itself to get me thinking it is fake)

2) white background for image/headshot

To check a headshot to see  if it is a fake one tool I love is Google’s search by image functionality.  In the case of this particular headshot the URL is searched upon and if the image is still live at the time you read this the search result looks like this:

To do this take the image URL of the headshot (often you can right click in a PC browser to get the URL address of the headshot… for example for the profile that was the catalyst for this column.

#3 A Google or Bing search fails to find corroborating data.”Stephanie+Gordon”++Imagine+Group

#4 Low number of connections (this profile has amassed over 500 so it didn’t set off the alarm alone, but the stock photo was the key.

#5 Lack of additional social media account links.  Again, in a vacuum this is not a flag, but when the photo looks fake or proves to be stock photography or a foreign movie star it’s an extra nail in the coffin.

#6 Missing school/university information, particularly if the individual is supposed to be a senior executive or management.

Of course lack or recommendations and endorsements is a hint, but those can also be faked easily.

If you’ve already accepted someone with a fake profile as a connection its a bummer several ways.

a) they have your email address for spam purposes

b) they’ll see future email changes

c) you often can’t remove them if you are a power LinkedIn user due to a bug (which may be fixed by the time you read this.

d) they can see your social network (depending on your settings) and use that information to spoof emails and make their spam more effective.


As you can see, 37 of my LinkedIn connections accepted the connection request from this fake person.  Perhaps some of their SPAM is originating from the real person or persons behind the fake profile.




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