Avoid Being Catfished: How to Spot a Fake LinkedIn Profile with One Click

In the last few months, the number of suspicious LinkedIn requests I’m getting has climbed. I have some general rules for vetting those out (number of connections, completeness of profile, in a related field, from my town, etc) that are pretty common, but I’ve recently discovered a simple trick that has proven several would-be connectors to be liars, which is a pretty good reason to deny their request and avoid being catfished. Here’s how it works.

Search Google for Their Profile Picture

This one particular invite I got that didn’t look too bad. She is in a marketing field, has nearly 500 connections and is connected to someone I know in real life. But something about the profile picture was just a little too good. Here’s the actual profile with a few details pixelated.

Fake LinkedIn Profile

Right Click on the Photo

If you use Google Chrome as your browser, you’ll see the option to “Search Google for This Image,” as in the picture below, and you can do this complete search in one click.

Fake LinkedIn Profile Google Search




In Other Browsers, Grab The Image URL

If you use Firefox, Internet Explorer or another browser, you’ll need to approach it slightly differently and add a couple of additional clicks. The “Search Google for this Image” option may not be available. In that case, you’ll want to right click the image and hit “Copy Image Location” or similar. (In the worst case example, you’ll need to save the image and then upload it to Google.) But assuming you can grab the URL, you’ll want to go to Google Image Search and click on the little picture of the camera.



Once you do, then select “Paste Image URL” and paste the image you just copied into the form field, as pictured here.



Let Google Tell You if the LinkedIn Post is a Fake

Perhaps not every LinkedIn profile that uses a fake photo is completely fake. I have no idea if this woman actually works for who she says she works for. But if someone I already don’t know is faking the most basic part of their profile, I can assume there’s a reason.



In this case, my supposed new sales contact had stolen the picture of actress Li Bingbing of the movie Transformers 4. Needless to say, I did not connect.

A Word of Caution

UPDATED 7/21/15: I earlier showed the screenshot below and the associated results, which seemed to indicate that this person was creating multiple fake LinkedIn profiles with the same picture. An eagle-eyed reader pointed out that Google seems to show the image related to profiles that you are connected to. Clicking in to all the links here show that this headshot is not associated with each LinkedIn account. This image shows up on the pages of her contacts, so that is not necessarily a fake. To be sure, click into the other LinkedIn pages.


Hope It Helps You

Over the last few months, I’ve used this one click trick to find at least a half dozen fake profiles on LinkedIn, all of whom had just asked me to connect. I reported some of the accounts to LinkedIn. I’m not sure if it’s an effort to grab email addresses for spam purposes, or something more nefarious (or something more benign), but either way, this 10 second trick has saved me from connecting with some people who lie online.

I hope it will help you do the same.


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