Martin Wright

6 years ago · 2 min. reading time · ~10 ·

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I knew it was a fake - but my Curiosity got the Better of Me

I knew it was a fake - but my Curiosity got the Better of Me

Originally Published on LinkedIn 

  Dec 3, 2015

Yesterday I received a connection request.  I carried out all the checks, the profile image was correct - the work history was accurate, the education matched.  

In fact it was a little too good - and I knew it.  But my curiosity to see what would happen got the better of me.  

We keep reading, and I have written, about fake profiles where the details do not match, the name is a fake and the details given are totally inaccurate.  But what about the time where the profile has been submitted by someone pretending to be a real person and a famous or powerful person at that.

The man whose identity was used was Igor Sechinand I knew the name seemed familiar.  I looked at the profile, noticed the number of connections was only 249 - this seemed a little too low and raised my suspicion.   I read the details of the profilee's education and work history - and it was well written - and as shown below, accurate.  The picture used 

 was checked via Tineye and Google Image Search and TinEye identified the image was cut down from a news item but it was the person claimed in the profile (that in itself was a clue that things were not as they should have been as a person with this sort of connections would not have to use a cropped image).

The real image 

was from a meeting where the Russian Gas Giant Rosneft was in negotiations with the Government in Mozambique (the gentleman with Mr Sechin is Minister for Foreign Affairs of Mozambique Oldemiro Julio Marques Baloi,)

In fact part of the check I carried out was on the website of Rosneft where full details of Mr Sechin (in fact I think that was the source of the details provided in the fake profile as the texts were almost identical).  (In fact this website was very well designed and gave a lot of open information - something other corporations might consider doing.)

And because of these details being openly available, the person effectively cloning Mr Sechin's has probably made two very big mistakes.

  • He tried to connect with me - with my being the type of person who would check the details beyond normal and write about it;
  • Please read Mr Sechin's Resume as listed on the Rosneft Website.

I knew it was too good to be true that a person of the stature of  Mr Sechin would wish to connect with me - but I was curious to see what was actually going on - so I decided to accept the connection, purely as a form of research to see what would happen.  

Of course the inevitable message arrived:-

Igor Sechin     Mr. Martin, It's a pleasure to connect with a professional like you too through LinkedIn. My interest in reaching out to you is because of my desire to discuss a possible partnership which might... see more

But when I clicked the "see more" it went to a message from an African Musician with whom I had connected previously (A genuine musician) so I checked Mr Sechin's name and the profile had been removed.

Now this scammer has created two victims of this attempted crime, me (although I had my eyes open and decided to go with my curiosity) - and Mr Igor Sechin, a gentleman of renown for whom the scammer tried to clone his details and who had no idea his name and details were being taken in vain.

But I have to say I am impressed by this faker's resource.  He stuck to the right identity, details, was accurate in his research, well thought through, good grammar - in fact avoiding most of the traps that scammers usually enact except one, and I will let you say to yourself what it was - as I am sure you have figured it out.

I have previously written about what scammers trying to create connections and the techniques they use.  In fact many others have also written about this too.  However, one other thing I am also aware of as we detect, write about, and detail how the scammers work and the mistakes they make - then the level of sophistication they will need to employ to get through will also increase.

All of the techniques one can employ to check the details can be got around (as this little post shows) - except one - our own B.S. detector.  If something seems a little too good to be true then it is

Below I have put links to some of my previous posts on this subject:- 

These posts are in reverse order, but they show not only some of the different types of scams, but also show the path of learning I have gone through while finding, checking and developing the skills to protect oneself.


If you have had a similar experience please comment and relate it - it is only be finding out how they work we can find ways to stop these crooks.

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Martin Wright

5 years ago #3

@Paul Walters thank you for your kind comment. What is even stranger is this man's name has come up in press reports about the mysterious deaths of high level russian diplomats recently. Sometimes you never know where these articles take you.

Paul Walters

5 years ago #2

Martin Wright Nice piece. I sold my company a few years ago and now live in Bali where I write books. I sometimes have an extraordinary amount of time on my hands which leads to that devilish pastime known as procrastination. I have had wonderful on going e mail conversations with people who want to deposit billions of dollars into my account and the like. These can go on for weeks until the scammer finally realising he has gone to hell in contacting me finally abandons all Hope. I usually report these enterprising chaps to the likes of Linked in and lately beBEE where I guess they deal with it . Anyway thank you for writing a post to have over my morning coffee

Martin Wright

6 years ago #1

Zack, thank you for commenting on this. Can I suggest you looik at my posts on Linked In, I have been writing others about not only the scammers but also some techniques on how to avoid them and how to check profiles to see if they are genuine.

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