Episode 26: How Bankers Can Spot Fake Profiles
How Bankers Can Spot Fake Profiles
In this episode, we delve into the world of fake LinkedIn profiles and how to identify them. Unfortunately, fake profiles are on the rise, and it's crucial for bankers to be equipped with the knowledge to spot them and protect themselves from scams.
Brynne Tillman and Jack Hubbard discuss various red flags, such as unrealistic profile photos, unprofessional messaging, connection count, third-degree connections, inconsistent dates, and unrelated skills. They also emphasize the importance of due diligence before accepting connection requests and how to engage with potential connections effectively.
Join us in this informative episode to sharpen your skills in detecting and handling fake LinkedIn profiles, ensuring a safe and productive networking experience on this professional platform. Don't fall victim to scams; learn how to protect your online presence as a banker.Click to Watch the Video
Jack Hubbard 00:01
I've had the privilege of being in and around banking for more than 50 years. Lots of changes during that time. We've gone from Ledger's to laptops, typewriters to technology. One thing, however, remains the same. Banking is a people business. And I'll be talking with those people that make banking great here on Jack Rants With Modern Bankers.
Hello, everybody. Welcome to Jack Rants with Brynne, actually. Hi, Brynne!
Brynne Tillman 00:34
Hi, Jack, this is a fun one this week.
Jack Hubbard 00:38
It is and you're having more fun because you're feeling better. Brynne’s been under the weather a little bit. And boy, oh, boy, I'll tell you what a trooper! You know, when they say the show must go on. She's exactly right. Because she has not been well, but I'm glad you're feeling better. You look terrific. And it is a fun subject.
Brynne Tillman 00:55
It is fun. And Jack, whenever I'm with you, my energy level goes up.
Jack Hubbard 00:59
You know, it's interesting, I tell my wife and she can always tell when we do a program because she'll say, gee, you must have been on with Brynne you're upbeat, and all that kind of stuff. I want to mention one thing before we start, Brynne. And that is the fact that I had a banker reach out to me and says, “Hey, you're on YouTube, you're famous.” And yeah, we're on YouTube. The modern banker is on YouTube. All of these programs, Jack Rants with Brynne and Jack Rants with Modern Bakers. They're all on YouTube. We've got 10 programs out there on YouTube with different interviews with people like Phil Simon, and many, many others. And then we've got all of our programs, which I think, this might be our 10th or ninth or 10th. And so we're on YouTube, and I know for you It's like, “Yeah, I've been on YouTube.” but for me, that's kind of cool, Brynne!
Brynne Tillman 01:53
You know, what’s kind of cool? On my TV If I say “Jack Rants…” it'll come up in the YouTube channel. That's really cool.
Jack Hubbard 02:02
That's really neat. Well, we're talking about being famous today but actually, in this program, we're talking about the infamous fake profiles, and the really proliferating aren’t they Brynne? It's just, it's really sad how people had a very, just a terrific technology that Reed Hoffman started in 2003, that people have to do this, but I guess it's the nature of the beast, they're trying to figure out a way to scam anybody.
Brynne Tillman 02:36
Yeah, it is really sad. And, you know, there's a few reasons people use fake profiles. You set the first one, which is can we scam people? But another one is that they create profiles for automation, because automation breaks LinkedIn agreement, and it can actually get your account shut down. So people are like, “Okay, well, I don't want my account shut down. So I'm going to create a fake account for automation.” And that is, in my opinion, even more dangerous.
Anyway, the key is we need bankers to be able to see a fake profile and not engage. If you don't mind me saying, you know, almost all the banks that we work with, have these fake emails that go out testing them. Do they click through? Testing all the employees, because they don't want spam and you know, scammy things happening through email. But they really don't have a process for identifying scammy things through LinkedIn. And spotting a fake profile is something that every banker should be taught to do in a similar way as they're taught to manage their email.
Jack Hubbard 03:57
Well, you know, that's such a great point, as a board member of a bank, before the end of November, I have to take 26 different classes. And one of those has to do with exactly what we're talking about here, which is phishing, and dumpster diving, and all those kinds of things. But I agree with you, I have not heard of a bank that actually trains its people what to look for in a fake profile and what to do with it. But I have good news for all of you. We're going to talk about that today. And it really starts at the very top of the profile, doesn't it? Brynne? The first thing we're going to talk about today is the profile photo. Yeah, those things are ubiquitous, and they're important. And if it's a real person, sure, you might have your photo from 25 years ago, but you're still real. There's a lot of fake profile photos out there. Brynne.
Brynne Tillman 04:56
Well, the first thing that we can do is identify if it looks like a stock image, if they look too pretty to be true or too handsome to like, if it looks like a model, it's probably a fake profile. Google allows you to do a reverse image search. So I had come across a fake profile, and it looked pretty darn good man, she had a lot of connections that I had connections with. She, you know, there, she had a work history and an education. You know, she went to Howard University and like, it was really built out. And I'm like, Man, this picture is too pretty. It was too staged and I'm like, okay, so I did a reverse image search. And it was Adobe Photoshop. And she was on like, 875 other websites, right? Because it was an Adobe model picture.
The challenge with this, right is, someone out there is using this to build relationships. But it's really cat fishing. You're out there, it's terrible. You're trying to start business relationships with a lie. So the stock photo, that's a big one. Another one is a photo, that's so blurred out, you can't really even make, you can't even tell, you know, if it's a human being or an alien, like it's such an odd thing. Others are now using AI, because you can create a brand new human being that you can't do humans, not a human being a brand new image of a fake human being that is not reverse image searchable, because it's unique to that AI. But it's still not completely perfect, or good enough, I would really, if it looks too good to be true. get suspicious, and we're gonna go through other ways.
In fact, the next way that I'd love to go into is the last update. We can look at now, when someone last updated their profile, when did they last update their photo? Or their location. So the last update is interesting. I'm sorry to jump ahead. So the last update is interesting to me. I want it to be recent, but they don't want it to be yesterday. So there's a balance, right? If it's a fake profile, they're probably getting shut down every couple of weeks. So take a look. Is the last update realistic? And I like to see it was last updated a couple of months ago. Now you can't help but if a real person updates their photo yesterday, it's going to be there. But it's a red flag for you to look a little further.
Jack Hubbard 08:15
Well, we had a situation at a recent coaching call with a banker who said, you know, I updated my logo, or my photo and my logo with our new bank logo. And she said it went out there and suddenly she was bombarded with Congratulations, congratulations. So I get it. She is a real human being who just updated her stuff. And she couldn't help it. So I agree. I can see where that is. But you said something interesting. And maybe we'll talk more about this if you want to later but you said LinkedIn shut them down. If I think I have a fake profile. Somebody invites me to connect, I go to their profile and it looks really fake to me and I decide one of two things to ignore or except I ignore and then LinkedIn says I don't know Fred. Okay. And I always click I don't know Fred is how does LinkedIn trying to figure out how to shut all these things down there must be millions of them.
Brynne Tillman 09:28
Yeah, and it's like popcorn right like it pops up. Somebody eats a bunch and then more pops up and it's an epidemic and how do we handle this? I will report and block someone if I know for sure. I mean I get and as most women are hit on almost weekly, if not more from you know folks that are looking to scam apparently, you know, it's a thing. So there is like the King of Jordan who connects with me every six weeks. You know? She's, yeah. And I'm like, really but it's interesting, because we can talk kind of about the next one, which is one of the things to look at is your shared connections. So how many connections do I have in common with the King of Jordan? Not a lot, right? I shouldn't anyway, but, you know, when you're looking when you're looking at, there are a lot of shared connections, more likely they're not fake.
Now, none of this is absolute because I can have someone who's a third connection or beyond, that's very, very real. So these are sort of checkpoints. Not any one of them on their own is enough to report them but a few of these put together –If your gut reaction goes red flag, you're probably right.
Jack Hubbard 11:23
Absolutely, go with your gut. And the unfortunate thing about this, as it relates to shared and connection, it could be someone that actually is a real person trying to reach out and connect with you. And too often what happens is bankers who don't do enough due diligence, just ignore it, and it goes away. And that's really unfortunate. I'll tell you a quick story. A banker in Indiana, I was doing some teaching in Indianapolis. And he said, This is a horrible story. You got to tell your baker's he said I got a connection request from a woman named let's call her Mary Jones, out in Seattle. Well, I don't know Mary Jones from a bag of doughnuts. So I ignored the connection. About two months later, I met a big chamber event because they're opening up a new hospital. And over to this woman comes and she says, “Hey, Fred, this, I don't know if you remember me but back in the day, my name was Mary Smith. And I went to highschool with you. We sat together in chemistry class.” And he goes, Oh, my gosh, Mary, what do you do? And she said, Well, I was married. Now. My name is Mary Jones, I was out to Seattle, my husband is the administrator of this hospital. And we were looking for a banking relationship. And I reached out to you on LinkedIn, and I never heard back from you. So I went to the next person I thought I knew on LinkedIn and unfortunately, we went with that particular bank. And he said, That's a horrible story. So my point is, when you look at things like shared connections, or you look at these profiles, do some due diligence on them, don't just ignore them because once you do some really bad things can happen.
Brynne Tillman 13:08
So I love that you said that there is another alternative, there is a reply before accepting. So if you are on the fence, you can reply back and say, you know, “Thanks for the connection request. Typically, I only connect with people I've engaged with, may as you found me?” and then ignoring them. And then if there's a response back, you can vet it again later. If you're on the fence, that's a safe way to go so that you don't create that unfortunate business lost opportunity.
Jack Hubbard 13:43
Now, before we go to the next one, you said something really great. And I failed to do this off. And you talked about reporting and blocking. So let's say that I got a connection request from somebody in San Francisco who works for Revlon and they want to connect with me and I ignore them. How would I go to block and report them and what happens if I don?
Brynne Tillman 14:12
Yeah, well, it's supposedly investigated, and I'm pretty sure most of them are investigated. Through AI like I don't I'm pretty sure that AI would read the message and would take a look at it and make a determination now, there are people that are unfortunately shut down accidentally because someone, maybe competitors, someone decided to report them but when you are on someone's profile, there is a more button that has dropped down. And there is a remove connection and a report and block connection. So I don't do this all the time but I definitely do this for you know, the kings of Jordan that are that start with our next one, which is an unprofessional messaging. So they often start with, and by the way, it may be a cultural difference but in the US this feels very unprofessional, where it starts with Hi beautiful, or Hi, dear, like, I would never call anyone, dear unless I would like to tuck them in at night. Like, right? Like, there's a line that feels too personal, too fast. And that often happens with fake profiles. And I'm not saying like, if it's a cultural difference, and in your culture, that's perfectly fine, then maybe it's not a red flag for me, when there's no other contact except “Hi, beautiful” and that's the whole connection request. That's a red flag. For sure. Yeah. And I try to make my husband jealous about it but he laughed.
Jack Hubbard 16:09
And you talked about a study done recently. That said 91% of professional women on LinkedIn were hit on. I just found that again, maybe it's my insensitivity. And I thought we were beyond this but that's staggering.
Brynne Tillman 16:27
Yeah, I don't think that was mine but I think that was on our coaching call. I can't remember who said that and my reaction to that is the other 9% haven't checked their messages yet. Like, it's just really it's so sad to have a whole TV show for personal catfishing but I think it's more done even professionally herethan personally. Well, let's hop to the next one. And this one is also not a standalone, but incomplete profile. You know, these are our red flags and I'm not talking about, they don't have an about section I'm talking about, they have one experience. And they're the CEO of Revlon, like this is a real story. I'm sure that she's shut down now. But it was definitely getting scammed. The picture she looked 25.
But here's the thing about which, and it's changing but currently, unless a company has really blocked it, anyone can say they work for your company, they just choose it from the drop down. And all of a sudden, they're there. Now, some companies and LinkedIn have implemented that they have to have your company email or bank email, right, you have to have your bank email, as one of your emails in the in LinkedIn, in order to be able to connect to the company page, it may even have to be the primary email. And then they get a link to the email to confirm it. So they are changing that, but it's pretty easy to say that you're the CEO of a company in a big company and you're not caught by them.
Jack Hubbard 18:21
And let's look at the opposite of this, too. If I'm a banker, and I have a fairly incomplete profile, the likelihood of somebody blocking me, reporting me, ignoring me when I'm trying to actually do business, that could be a real challenge. So we always talk about, look, if you're going to be on LinkedIn, be on LinkedIn, don't get on there just because everybody else is doing it, or somebody at the bank went to a conference and says you got to be on LinkedIn, that's not going to cut it. If you've got to at least have a photo, it would be great to have a background, a good headline, your experience. I know the above section is important to both of us. But if you don't, at least your experience and your education, that alone will help people at least say this is a real person versus a chatbot.
Brynne Tillman 19:14
Yeah, yeah, that's great. The next one Jack, connection count.
Jack Hubbard 19:20
Interesting. This happened to me recently, I looked at this person who was allegedly an executive vice president of Revlon. And they had very little education. In fact, they went to some school in London, but no years, and they only had 65 connections. My point is, if you're an EVP or a president of Revlon, you've got to have way more than 65 connections. That was a huge red flag for me too.
Brynne Tillman 19:50
Yeah, I agree. And especially if they're reaching out to you now, if you're reaching out to a high level executive, and they only have 65 connections, take a look at their followers, right? They may have 10,000 followers, but only connected to some folks. So there are definitely things to look at but if they're reaching out to connect with you, that's a red flag, because why are you only the 66th person that they've reached out to, and you've never had a conversation with them? Right. So that connection count is important to go along with that is third degree connection and beyond. Now, I am not saying that every third degree connection that's asking you to connect is a fake profile. But if you don't have any shared connections, it's worth looking a little bit deeper. And that's where you can reply and say, “May I ask how you found me?”
Jack Hubbard 20:51
Absolutely! And if you have Sales Navigator, you can actually go a little deeper into a third degree connection and at least look at their profile. You know, when I teach at banking schools, I get the list of bankers, and I have a few third degree connections. I have to decide, do I really want to connect with these people? Because if they're not very active on LinkedIn, what's the point of me adding them to be connected? Because if they're not connected to somebody that I'm connected to, you know, were you and I both pretty deep connected? Is it? Is it really worth it? So that's a real good red flag as well.
Brynne Tillman 21:31
Yeah, another one, these are inconsistent dates. A lot of people can make mistakes, and they have inconsistent dates but it's just another thing to look at. And the last one that we have is unrelated skills. And this one, I found to be so interesting, because it was supposedly a CEO. It was a manufacturing company, right?
I never heard of it, it might have been totally made up. The challenge for me was the profile photo, had the logo, not a person's name but people do that. So people do that. But it was manufacturing and then when you went down into skills, it was all Excel, Microsoft Word. And I went if you're in manufacturing, I mean, you may be good at those things but are those the things you're bragging about on your profile? So that was a red flag for me? Yeah, I mean, there's a lot out there.
And I think Jack, as we wrap this up in the non let you know, I'll just tell you my last thoughts, and then you share your last thoughts is to really embrace the reply before accepting. If you catch a fake profile that is totally, absolutely fake. And fine, you can ignore it. But if you're on the fence on the desktop, when you go to the mind Network tab, and invitations, even if they don't have a note, you can reply. Just you know, again, I know I'm repeating myself, but I think it's worth repeating. You know, “Jack, thanks so much for the connection requests typically only connect with people I've already engaged with, may ask how you found me?” then hit ignore. If they reply, it's going to come into your inbox. And you could have a conversation with them without accepting that connection request.
Jack Hubbard 23:42
Yeah, that's very true. And nice comment from Ashley Venoy. Good friend of ours Brynne and a tremendous banker down in the Florida area. And really appreciate your kind comments. I actually really appreciate Glad you're here. I just think it's kinda like when you make a loan, no one, no banker would make a loan, if you went on a call, and they just gave you a bunch of paper, and you kind of browse through it real fast. And you go, yeah, 3 million sounds really good. We do a lot of due diligence with that. And we are absolutely better. We'd better be doing some due diligence when we decide whether this is a real profile and connect with them or it's a fake profile, and we want to block them.
So looking at their photo, does their photo match if they went to college and graduated in 1978? And they look 25? Yeah, I don't think so. So you really got to take a big picture. Look at this Brynne and the sad thing about my story about Indianapolis, we make very snap judgments about certain things and we need to spend a little time doing some due diligence because you never know the person that you connect with today, you may have a conversation with two months from now. And I'm glad we did this program, because there's so many bankers confused about what I should do here. I did a class. And there was a banker. And as I was walking around the class, banker had about 150, on completed connection requests, and they were completely frozen. They had no idea what to do.
So hopefully this program helped you understand. There are some real and some fake, just like in life, and you want to make sure you do enough due diligence to make sure that you're connecting with the right people.
Brynne Tillman 25:39
Jack, another fun one.
Jack Hubbard 25:41
It was great Brynne. I love these because we riff and we had to know okay, here's the subject, and you're so steeped in what's going on that it's so easy to have a conversation with you. back next Thursday, 11 o'clock, central noon, Eastern Time. We're gonna do this again. And we're gonna keep doing it for years and years and years because new stuff comes up on LinkedIn all the time. And it's great to see you with Brynne every week even though it's remote. Good to see you. Thanks, Jack. See you everybody!
Thanks for joining us for Jack Rants with Brynne brought to you by our good friends at Vertical IQ and RelPro. We're live on LinkedIn every Thursday at noon Eastern time helping bankers turn connections into conversations.
Don't miss an episode, visit themodernbanker.com/tmbpodcast. Leave us a review if you would. You can also listen to this program and the new Jack Rants with Modern Bankers on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Play and I Heart Radio. We're on YouTube as well. Subscribe at https://www.youtube.com/@TheModernBanker. Finally, don't forget, make today and every day a great client day!