LinkedIn users fight back against growing crypto cons

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned all LinkedIn users to be on their guard as crypto scammers convince victims to hand over their life savings over long periods of time, reports CNBC.

Scammers appear to make the first move through a direct message, engaging in small talk and then proceeding to groom the victim over many months in what begins as legitimate financial advice.

Victims of LinkedIn crypto scams said the perceived professionality of the platform helped them fall for the con.

In one case, Floridian Mei Mei Soe lost $288,000 — her entire life savings — to a LinkedIn crypto con artist. According to Soe:

  • A scammer reached out and made small talk, eventually advising Soe to buy $400 in Bitcoin on (a recognized crypto exchange).
  • Over the course of a few months, the fraudster convinced Soe to move her investments to a website that they secretly controlled.
  • Soe secured bank loans and personal loans from friends, all of which were transferred to the scammer.

“I would never think that would ever happen on LinkedIn at all,” Soe said in an interview. “Just the money that I saved, every single dollar. I earned that with my own pain and hard working, it hurts,” (via CNBC).

FBI special agent Sean Ragan said the level of scams on the platform poses “a significant threat” to LinkedIn users and that the agency is working closely with the platform to combat crypto fraud. “They don’t necessarily care who that [victim] is. They’re gonna cast a wide net, and see who falls into that net.”

According to the FBI, those most likely to fall victim to internet scams are over the age of 60.

Read more: YouTuber rugpulls fans for $500K in crypto, token pumps 300% anyway

In a statement to CNBC, LinkedIn said that financial scams are not allowed on the platform, despite acknowledging an uptick in this sort of crime. According to the platform’s own reports, its security systems detected and stopped 96% of all fake accounts in the second half of 2021 — at least 16.3 million profiles.

Unfortunately, fraudsters are still appearing far too often. So much so that groups of LinkedIn crypto scam victims meet online regularly. According to CNBC, in one group individual losses ranged from $200,000 to $1.6 million.

Vigilantes fight back against LinkedIn crypto cons

According to CNBC, the Global Anti-Scam Organisation said it traced the scams to so-called “boiler rooms” in South-East Asia. However, the FBI said investigations into similar operations reveal that fraudsters span the globe.

LinkedIn’s trust officer Oscar Rodriguez admitted there was only so much the platform could do — and that users must remain vigilant as well.

“Trying to identify what is fake and what is not fake is incredibly difficult,” said Rodriguez. “One of the things that I would really love for us to do more is getting into proactive education for members.”

In any case, several victims of LinkedIn crypto cons have decided to fight back. So-called ‘scam baiters’ lure in the fraudsters and pass on their details to LinkedIn or law enforcement. According to LinkedIn, 306,000 profiles were reported by members and subsequently removed by the platform in the second half of 2021.

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