I hope the title of this blog post did not shock you. No, I am not trying to sell you anything. But this is the question I have been asked twice now in the last month from a gentleman who is apparently living in Bulgaria.
I was first contacted on May 22 and offered a database of 50,000 LinkedIn members willing to connect, and I was promised that “all 50K members are open for invitations and business offers.” The email went on to say that, with these connections, I could save “hundreds of dollars” by avoiding costly InMails. Furthermore, with the purchase, I could receive free Ebooks on using LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook! The price you ask? ”I decided not to set price for this database myself but to give you an opportunity to pay as much as you think it must cost. You choose the price!”
This person did not see anything wrong in what he was doing, and he even posted his LinkedIn profile URL at the bottom of his email (needless to say that profile has since been removed).
Obviously spam, I thought. But then I received another email yesterday from the same person. This time the LinkedIn database had been reduced to 10,000 members while a new Facebook database of 5,000 members was thrown into the mix. And once again I was promised a free Ebook, but this time only on LinkedIn.
LinkedIn has now entered the age of email database scams. With 40 million members it was only time before this started. With every new LinkedIn connection, access to an email address can be had. And there are LinkedIn Groups that are, in essence, providing these email databases on a smaller scale to fellow group members who are open networkers. Open networkers, like myself, are not trying to sell these databases. It is the people with fake profiles (or in this case, not so fake ones) that are trying to exploit open networkers to gain access to these email addresses for their own profit.
Look, even if you don’t connect with people, they are often putting their email addresses out there on their profile. You can get email addresses from people’s blogs and home pages. There are a number of ways you can legally obtain email addresses: simply do a google search for “email database” and you will see what I mean. Of course, the big difference here is that people have supposedly “opted-in” to receiving emails.
When we connect with someone on LinkedIn, have we opted-in to receiving potential spam from them?
Does this trend alarm me? Well, without LinkedIn providing you functionality to not only hide your email address from others, but also filtering out your contacts into levels that either you’d like to or not like to share your email address with, this trend will continue. There are many privacy filters on LinkedIn, but this one is sorely lacking.
In the meantime, should anyone receive any of these emails, please report to firstname.lastname@example.org. That is all we can do at the moment.