Binance, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, has 642 employees on its payroll. But on professional networking site LinkedIn, that number swells to 1,600, including a fake executive director who seems to be working there even before the exchange launched.
The fake listings appear to have gotten the goat of Binance’s CEO Changpeng Zhao, who tweeted about “scammers impersonating [the] Binance Team,” and said that the actual number of his employees who had LinkedIn profiles was a scant 30.
“Welcome to crypto and LinkedIn,” he sniffed.
At first glance, Binance’s LinkedIn profiles problem—as well as many other crypto companies "employees" listed on the professional networking site—may seem similar to the fake profiles malaise that afflicted crypto twitter a while back. In that phenomenon, fake profiles promised crypto giveaways to followers.
Fake LinkedIn profiles, however, have different motivations. The incentives for creating such profiles range from phishing scams, to building email lists, to generating leads for recruitment agencies. In Binance’s case, fake profiles are also responsible for tarnishing its brand by soliciting listing requests from tokens for its Initial Exchange Offering (IEO) platform.
“Any LinkedIn accounts that claim themselves as “Binance Listing Director/Coordinators” are absolutely fraudsters, as our listing team would not reveal their title or any social media,”a spokesperson told Decrypt. That said, the fake profiles have little impact on the company’s operations. “We have internal channels to verify employee identity and report phishing accounts and information.”
Binance says it has added tutorials educating users about phishing/scamming attacks on its online academy site.
The spokesperson added that many people who list themselves on LinkedIn as employees are actually just traders: “They are Binance users or investors of BNB (the native utility token of Binance ecosystem.)”
LinkedIn has said it uses a “variety of automated techniques, coupled with human reviewers and member reporting to keep our members safe from all types of bad actors and abuse.” But identity fraud is virtually impossible to stop on the site, which offers up an easy way to rat out bad actors.
Larry Cermak, a researcher at The Block, attempted to put together a more accurate list of employee accounts at crypto companies.
But CZ said the number of people working at his exchange misses the point: “Wrong goal. Active users is the number to go for.” LinkedIn does not, of course, even attempt a guess at that one.