The curious case of Laure Fabre, the Google Ventures France “employee” on LinkedIn

Mar 7, 2013
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default_profileFor me, each Social Network has its own rules, in terms of who I accept/follow. I’ve always been quite particular about who I follow with my personal account, and we tend to follow people we engage with and people who we write about with @RudeBaguette.LinkedIn, unfortunately, due to its business nature and the advantages that come with having more connections, has always defaulted to a business card repository for me (especially since they bought Card Munch). This means that, unless someone’s profile has nothing to do with tech in France, I’m likely to accept their invitation – because, why the hell not?

Enter Laure Fabre, Chef de Projet at Google Ventures France

Last last week I received a request from an ambiguously empty profile – A Masters from HEC, no profile picture, and one job reference –  however, it seemed to be someone from GV France, so I accepted and sent out an email (her email:fabrelaure3@gmail.com) requesting more information about their activities in France. No response.

I woke up Thursday to find that I was not the only one who had been contacted by this mystery person. According to Lionel Tressens, cofounder of LoungeUp: “everyone in the french startup world received it… she started with 0 connections last week.”

I reached out to Jodi Olson, a contact from Google Ventures who I had talked to just a few months ago about Why Google Ventures doesn’t invest in Europe. I asked her to clarify the confusion, and perhaps even shed some light on Ms. Fabre’s activities. Her response as follows:

“Thanks for reaching out. I’m not sure who this person is. We don’t have Google Ventures staff in Europe.” – Jodi Olson, Google Ventures

By the time I received this email, the LinkedIn account had been deleted. I can see from my LinkedIn message archives that the account has been deleted (account id: 235660552), and when I went to see if I could learn anything through her aforementioned Gmail account, it seemed I had just missed her.

Gmal-delete

And so, while I had planned on warning people to disconnect with this imposter, I guess the bigger lesson here is to only connect with people you know. Connecting with someone on LinkedIn, while it may seem harmless, gives them access to your network, as well as your contact information. With Phishing becoming more & more popular via social networks, one false step can land you with a stolen identity, online, or worse, in real life.

Update: LinkedIn’s PR representative, Esther Ohayon, got back to us about the incident:

“There’s little benefit to members in presenting inaccurate information about themselves on LinkedIn, due to the visibility LinkedIn offers someone will notice. Secondly, we’d encourage members to only connect with people they know, and encourage members to report suspicious profiles. Finally, our User Agreements addresses this directly ( section 10.2)