Scammers exploiting the weak job market are looking for hapless victims on LinkedIn, which has become a major meeting site for job seekers and recruiters.
Over the last year, swindlers promising employment have been spreading from Facebook and Twitter to LinkedIn, where their fake profiles have been popping up as fast as the site is able to take them down, Bianca Stanescu, security specialist for anti-virus vendor Bitdfender, said Friday.
While job scams are regularly found on Facebook, LinkedIn was considered less susceptible because of its professional clientele, Stanescu said. However, it seems that a LinkedIn profile with a picture of a pretty woman posing as a job recruiter and promising easy money is too hard for people, particularly men, to resist.
"It's especially enticing for men to click on these ads to work with such beautiful human resource managers likes Christina and Annabelle," Stanescu said. "We also found someone named Jessica."
In a recent scam reported by Bitdefender, "Annabelle Erica," a good-looking blonde, promised to put job applicants in touch with hundreds of companies looking for English translators.
"It doesn't matter what language you speak, as long as you speak English, and at least one other language, there are plenty of jobs for you available," the profile said.
Promising more than $3,600 a month, the profile included a shortened URL that linked to a website registered on a ".com" domain to avoid suspicion. The domain is a favorite among businesses.
On the site, applicants are asked for their email addresses and the passwords to their accounts. The tricksters also ask for a credit-card number to pay the fee charged for finding the job.
The scenario is common for job scams, Stanescu said. Some sites will ask for more personal data, such as bank account information.
Authentic LinkedIn groups, such as Global Jobs Network, posted the hustle featuring "Annabelle." Global Jobs has 167,000 users worldwide. Overall, LinkedIn has 2.1 million professional groups.
LinkedIn said in an emailed statement that it "immediately removes profiles that are found to be spreading inappropriate content or engage in spam/phishing."
"Additionally, we scan URLs against known blacklists in an effort to prevent the distribution of malware, spam or phishing sites," the company said.
Job scams have become widespread because of the difficulty people are having in finding work in the U.S. and Europe. While unemployment has remained doggedly high in the United States, across the Atlantic the percentage of workers looking for jobs in some countries exceeds 25 percent, greater than the U.S. Great Depression.
"LinkedIn is more and more popular (with scammers) because of the global economy," Stanescu said. "Think of all the people who are out there looking for jobs."
LinkedIn, as well as the names of other trusted brands, has been used for years in scam emails to try to lure victims to malware sites. Last year, security experts reported such scams were increasing at an accelerated pace.
Last month, LinkedIn was criticized for releasing an Apple iPhone app, called Intro, which embedded a link to an email sender's profile. Security experts said the app left users open to phishing attacks, while LinkedIn said the criticisms were based on "inaccuracies and misperceptions.