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Telecom warns about bogus LinkedIn account

UPDATED / July 2: This just in from Telecom GM of corporate relations Andrew Pirie: "There is now a Linkedin invitation for a “Simon Bright, Director at Telecom New Zealand” circulating. There is no Mr Bright on our Board. We will be getting in touch with Linkedin about this to see what they can do."

Telecom has just appointed a new director, but his name is Ido Leffler. There is a Simon Bright on the NZ IT scene, but he's the head of Intergen, and has no ties to Telecom — and already has his own, legit LinkedIn account.

I've now had invites from the bogus LinkedIn accounts for George Dickinson, MD NZ Herald, "Simon Bright" and one "Gary Taylor", purporting to be MD of Westpac NZ. All seem to have sent invites far and wide.

The Dickinson account was disabled after I contacted LinkedIn's Australia-NZ MD Clifford Rosenberg.

But is there anything LinkedIn can do to prevent fake accounts in the first place? There seems to be a rash of them. 

LinkedIn head of comms for Australia-NZ Tara Commerford told NBR this morning, "Users on any internet platform should be aware that there are people who will occasionally misuse the online space. While we have safeguards in place, we recommend our members connect only with people they know and trust. 

"With more than 300 million members globally, LinkedIn profiles are user-generated and subject to our User Agreement. When we are notified of any violations to the User Agreement, we take immediate steps to investigate and rectify where necessary."

LinkedIn's customer service team is looking into the "Stephen Bright" and "Gary Taylor" accounts.

Who is mysterious NZ Herald 'managing director' George Dickinson?

July 1: When I got a LinkedIn request from George Dickinson — Managing Director, NZ Herald, my first thought was, How flattering. A guy at the opposition wants to connect.

My second: He's done that (all too common) thing were someone inadvertently clicks "Invite my contacts to connect" and everyone who's ever had a glancing contact with their email address book gets a LinkedIn invite.

But it never occurred to me there was simply no George Dickinson.

At least, not until I got a message from someone at ClearPoint, who was suspicious of this character who had suddenly gained 400+ contacts.

I followed his lead and called reception at Herald publisher APN.

They had never heard of any George Dickinson.

So now I'm wondering who's behind the account? A fraudster? A spammer? Someone having a laugh? An NZ Herald journo doing some prep for an article on the frailties of LinkedIn?

And, pro tip: don't connect to anyone you've never heard of, even if you're an NBR reporter who likes to spray his story links at as many people as possible.

I've alerted the head of APN Digital (who's initial analysis was it "looks very dodgy"), and asked LinkedIn Austraila-NZ MD Cliff Rosenberg for comment.

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Comments and questions

I did that by mistake yesterday. Saw a screen that had a dozen people, unticked everybody except the two I actually wanted to hit, but had zero clue that there was a little wee slider over on the right hand side with another hundred people below the fold. And there's no undo button. Evil darned setup.

Are you sure its not Bruce Dickinson, as in THE Bruce Dickinson?

Indeed. But beyond the laughs, whoever's behind this account is impersonating an APN executive. I'm surprised I haven't heard back from LinkedIn, and that it hasn't taken the account down already.

I got the same yesterday for MD at Westpac and HR Director at NZ Post. Becomes obvious when their profile just has the current position and no previous roles.

I had a similar one from someone at Natwest in London. I accepted, but it was a fake. Warnings had appeared on my feed, and I then deleted the connection. Later in the day I received the usual letter offering to transfer millions and split the proceeds from the transfer. Just another variation of a well known scam generated in Africa.

What annoys me, is that in the couple of hours they had the link the scammers will have downloaded all the contents of my connections, so they too will no doubt be hit by similar issues.

The contact to me came from a LinkedIn Premium account, which of course allows more direct connection.

There were similar issues circulating Facebook a year or so ago.

Just be careful is the overall message.

Graham Robertson, Managing Director at ANZ, is the latest one.

I have also received a LI invite from Graham Robertson MD of ANZ.

Besides the fakes on LinkedIn there are also fake invites being sent which impersonate actual LinkedIn emails.