LinkedIn Troll - An Exposé

4/15/2014 11:38:20 AM

On tax day, 2014, I received a LinkedIn notice that someone wished to connect.

This is not, in itself, atypical but I am not an open network profile and prefer to know the people who engage me.

I recognized neither the photo nor the name (neither the human nor her company). So I went to investigate her profile:

So far so good.

They typical LI troll doesn't have 500+ connections. The urge to SPAM is far too strong and the punishment for doing so from LI and others is far too great.

But perhaps this troll doesn't have his eye on spamming?

Reading over the background made it even better. She shares 4 of my connections - including Dick Reck whom I've known for almost 15 years.

UofC, Yahoo, and Lycos. I like this person. But something doesn't sit right here.

I like to think myself connected to the Chicago techie scene. To learn of a company, of which I've never heard, that employs (100+ incredible people) and has what appears to be a rock-star CEO is unusual. Think of the embarrassment felt by an English major for never having read Tale of Two Cities. How could I have been that clueless?

Something wasn't right here.

Looking at her education and remembering her birth year, I found it strange that Michelle would have been starting highschool the same year I was graduating. She is 2 months my junior.

I remember the year I graduated for sure because I have my 2 decade reunion coming up and my school has sent no fewer than 80 reminders. But some of the reminders just wanted money so I don't know.

Now, I, like you, have seen my share of LinkedIn trolls. They're not difficult to spot and I've even published "Anatomy of a LinkedIn Spammer" a few years ago. Telltale signs are:

  1. Small number of connections
  2. Glamour shot photo
  3. No verifiable employment
  4. no common connections

A visual if you prefer:

Michelle is connected with people I know personally. She has a fleshed-out profile and seems like a real person with connections that become a woman of her stature.

But now, I just can't shake the feeling that this is the work of a very clever troll.

Let's Google her:

Google thinks I made a mistake. There are Micheles with 1 "L." Let's correct Google:

Nope. Not the same one. No picture. No news stories. The LinkedIn profile isn't even the same one.

Is it really feasible that a 37 year old female CEO of a 100+ person company would have NOTHING...not ONE single news pub in all her years of working?

Not likely. What of her company?

Monkey Web Services doesn't have any current employees on LinkedIn. Also unlikely. There are a ton of "web monkeys" though and their results affect the search. I'm not going to click on all their profiles and be the creepy guy ogling their backgrounds.


Check with the Secretary of State:

Of course, this accompanied some searching for domains and URLs and all came up inconclusive.

So, I decided to look for the email address. Remember the contact info?

And we get:

It didn't take many clicks down to see a little something fishy.

Who is Mr. Das and what is his relation here?

Please note that having a gmail as the contact email for domain reg is not itself unusual. 2 main reasons:

  1. Spammers
  2. Hijackers

I have a dedicated mailbox for domain registrations which is a spamtrap for 100 or so of my domains. Then, I link a focal domain to a gmail or hotmail or something that won't easily be transferred by a fool GoDaddy employee. Why all the cloak and dagger with registration emails? Why??? Read Naoki Hiroshima's tale of woe: (but with a happy ending)

But my address is goofball and I use it for verification emails. This address seems real.

So, back to Krishna Das and

Is it possible that this lovely CEO of a 100+ person company gives her tech folk such leeway with the corporate name if not its gmail? The rights to which can't just be taken away like they can with Google Apps. Any party with the password can change it and lock all others out forever.

Is is wise to put such faith in someone who lives and works outside of any legal jurisdiction Ms. Michelle Redlich shares?

At this point, I decided that any further research into Michelle Redlich or Krishna Das would be unnecessary.

But what if you're wrong?

Having thought about this, I, of course, regret any and all false positives sounded by my troll-dar.

I don't know Michelle Redlich's / Krishna Das' motive for connecting with Chicago in general or me in particular. But I am nearly certain that Michelle Redlich, as positioned in her LinkedIn profile, does not exist.

You probably hate me after the below. Kind of like when you were learning fractions and the professor made you multiply big numbers before telling you that the numerator and denominator could easily reduce.

No greater shame in doing well that which should not be done at all.