Cryptocurrency investment scammers on LinkedIn are a “significant threat” to user safety, FBI special agent Sean Ragan said Friday.
In an interview with CNBC, Ragan said he believes LinkedIn has a problem when it comes to investment scams.
“This type of fraudulent activity is significant,” Ragan said. “There are many potential victims, and there are many past and current victims.”
The Microsoft-owned social network claims to have 830 million members in more than 200 countries.
These scammers aren’t lazy either, so they might seem very convincing.
“They are always thinking about different ways to victimize people, victimize companies,” Ragan told the network. “And they spend their time doing their homework, defining their goals and their strategies, and their tools and tactics that they use.”
The FBI has seen an uptick in investment-related fraud, according to Regan. The Federal Trade Commission reported that U.S. cryptocurrency traders lost $575 million due to investment fraud from January 2021 until March 2022.
LinkedIn emphasizes business news and relationships, which may create a false sense of security against the backdrop of common romance and online scams. The CNBC report notes that fake profiles often claim to be associated with legitimate and successful companies, or to represent people with “entrepreneurial spirit.”
LinkedIn’s director of trust, privacy, and equity Oscar Rodriguez acknowledged the number of scammers increasing on its platform.
“Over the last few months, we’ve seen a rise in fraudulent activity happening across the Internet, including here on LinkedIn,” Rodriguez wrote in a blog post Thursday.
The company said it has a track record of proactively removing suspicious content and accounts it suspects may lead to fraud. In 2021, LinkedIn removed over 136 million instances of spam and scam content on its platform, according to a recent company transparency report. It also removed over 31.6 million fake accounts last year.
Rodriguez told CNBC that more “proactive education” on the risks of using LinkedIn is something he’d like to see going forward.
LinkedIn does not currently offer profile verification for notable users, unlike Twitter and Instagram. But not even verification is foolproof: Twitter has also seen verified accounts abused by crypto and NFT scammers.
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