151211 HoaxBanner

Were you hoaxed by the US Ambassador John Berry?

At 8:04 today I received email requesting a Link…

I check the email is genuinely from LinkedIn and it was (see where the red arrow points). The fact that the US Ambassador may want to link with me wasn’t so surprising since I had been working on some ideas which would involve the Ambassador this week.

So I accepted the link around 8:45.

At 8:57 received a message from the Ambassador which was a bit surprising. So I clicked on the message to see more of what he had to say. Here is the screen shot:

151211_Message

At first look this was a really great honor. However look at some of the issues I’ve highlighted and now you’ve been warned, I’m sure you can find many more.

I looked at the LinkedIn account in more detail. It looks like this. I’ve clicked on the “Contact Info” box so you can see more information about the account.

151211_Profile

Again I’ve highlighted some key issues with red arrows. Now let’s see how things stack up…

On the positive side:

  • I’d been working with the US Consulate recently (2 days ago) so they know of me.
  • Came through LinkedIn as a direct request (a source I usually trust).
  • I recognised the name of the Ambassador since I’ve just seen him present at the UNSW conference. The picture matched. He is a real person.
  • There are two people I know connected to the profile.
  • The programme mentioned exists and is genuine.
  • There are some really great connections on this account.
  • I would expect him to have over 500 connections (and he does).

On the negative side:

  • I’ve never shaken the Ambassador’s hand. (My usual rule is never to accept a connection unless I’ve shaken someone’s hand).
  • I am not Australian.
  • The US Ambassador does not have the power to hand out the Prestigious Honor of United Nations Ambassador of Peace & Good Will.
  • I took a look at the current Celebrities and Politicians – there are no people from business mentioned anywhere.
  • The email asks me to send a CV and clear phot to Canberra@usa.com. The domain usa.com is nothing to do with the US government (I would expect a .gov address at least).
  • The email address for the Ambassador according to LinkedIn is nkoffices3@gmail.com.  Not too likely!
  • 833 people have just accepted a LinkedIn connection – that’s a lot of activity for “now”.
  • The account is only two weeks old.
  • This is a standard, free LinkedIn account.
  • They have done no security clearance on me before offering the position (note the offer is NOT conditional).
  • Not much information on the profile (and on second reading, he didn’t start in 2013).
  • The message tells me to “keep it to yourself for now”.

Cleary this is a scam… but what’s the next step? The next step may be that they say I have to pass security clearance and in order to do this they will need 100 points of identify check – passport, bank statement, driving license…

It is an incredibly good scam.

The really sad thing is that all this energy could be put to better use. Rather than scamming innocent people, why not go out and do some good?

Have you been affected by a scam like this? Let everyone know what alerted you below.

(With thanks to Amy who sent me the image of the faked account since I disconnected once I realized my mistake. Amy was check out his contacts to see who to contact… perhaps I missed a trick)!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Brian,
    This is indeed an impostor account. We received calls and emails yesterday from a number of people who also received this message yesterday. As you noted, there are several anomalies to indicate this is a spoof account. It does not belong to US Ambassador John Berry, and the US Embassy in Canberra has reported it to LinkedIn with a request that it be removed.

    Regards,
    Alicia Edwards,
    US Embassy
    Public Affairs Section

  2. Brian,
    You correctly surmised that this was a spoof account. We were contacted by several individuals yesterday who also recieved the message and recognized it as fraudulent. We can confirm that this message did NOT come from Ambassador Berry, and have contacted LinkedIn to report the impostor account.

    Regards,
    Alicia Edwards
    Public Affairs Spokesperson
    U.S. Embassy Canberra

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