The New York Times on Tuesday reported that a former senior foreign policy official who served in the Obama administration said he received messages from someone on LinkedIn. The former Danish Foreign Ministry said a woman pretending to be a headhunting firm employee offered to fly him to Beijing and put him in touch with “well paid” opportunities. According to reports, instead of the woman, three middle-aged men showed up and told the former official they could help him get “great access to the Chinese system” for research.
Another former White House official and career-diplomat were approached on LinkedIn by an individual claiming to be a California Institute of Technology research fellow, with a profile page showing connections to White House aides and ambassadors, but the New York Times claimed that no such fellow exists.
LinkedIn is the ideal tool for recruiting individuals who can unknowingly or willingly commit espionage since members are looking for jobs. LinkedIn Spokesperson, Nicole Leverich told the New York Times the company proactively finds and removes fake accounts.
“We enforce our policies, which are very clear: The creation of a fake account or fraudulent activity with an intent to mislead or lie to our members is a violation of our terms of service,” she further added.
However, The New York Times is not the only one who reported such tricks of the Chinese agencies trying to recruit individuals abroad using LinkedIn. William Evanina, the U.S. counter-intelligence chief, told Reuters August 2018 that intelligence and law enforcement officials had told LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft Corp., about China’s “super aggressive” efforts on the site. He said the Chinese campaign included connecting with thousands of LinkedIn members at a time, but declined to say how many fake accounts American intelligence had discovered, how many U.S. citizens may have been contacted and how successful was China in the recruitment drive.