I recently received an unsolicited LinkedIn connection request from a “Fernilia Willson” – who has the purported title of Marketing Manager for a California company called “readyBUZZ.”
A quick review of her LinkedIn profile (profile picture on the right) raised a number of red flags for lack of authenticity, so I started doing some background checking.
In case you were wondering, I don’t check all my LinkedIn connections in this manner, only the ones that set off the fake alert alarms.
The online trail led to a Google+ profile (profile picture on the left), where “Fernilia” is keeping busy posting frequent updates on social media topics, and connecting with 1200 random strangers. On LinkedIn her network just topped the 500 connections mark.
This all fairly quickly lead to the conclusion that “Fernilia Willson” is an invented persona – one that is being used to collect network connections on LinkedIn and Google+ for social media marketing (or other) purposes.
By “invented persona” I mean that there is no evidence that there is anyone with the name “Fernilia Willson” in the United States. Nor can either of the profile pictures (which are not of the same person) being displayed on the two networks possibly be authentic, as both pictures have been scavenged off the internet and are of other women.
In other words, Fernilia Willson of readyBuzz is a fake.
Update July 16 2012
Google completely removed the profile after an investigation. LinkedIn have it in the queue for deletion. Meanwhile this post has attracted quite a number of visitors and is ranking highly for both Fernilia Willson and readyBuzz in Google. readyBuzz seems to be silent on the matter.
I did mention earlier that I would provide additional evidence that pointed to the fakeness of the profile. The red flag was in the LinkedIn education section, which states:
University of California, San Francisco – School of Medicine
Master of Computer Applications (M.C.A.),Computer Science
Of course a school of medicine is not normally a place to obtain a Computer Science degree. More telling is that there is no “Master of Computer Applications” that I could find in the United States. Instead The Master of Computer Applications (MCA) is a Postgraduate degree in computer application Streams awarded in India, according to Wikipedia.
That blunder points to the profile having been created by someone in India who does not know the US education system, nor who had the ability to comprehend my detailed profile on LinkedIn.
If they had, they surely would not have tried to add me as a contact. Instead they have been exposed, deleted and caused readyBuzz to be seen as an amateurish, slightly fraudulent and clueless operation.