Social engineering : the “Caroline Paradis” case

First thing first: what is social engineering about ? Here what Wikipedia tell us about:

Social engineering, in the context of information security, refers to psychological manipulation of people into performing actions or divulging confidential information. This differs from social engineering within the social sciences, which does not contain the divulging of confidential information. A type of confidence trick for the purpose of information gathering, fraud, or system access, it differs from a traditional “con” in that it is often one of many steps in a more complex fraud scheme.

~Wikipedia

So now you have the basis. The woman that lead us to this subject is “Caroline Paradis“, a profile that I accepted some days ago. Nothing strange here till now.

What happened

First thing notable is her email titled “LINKEDIN CONTACT“:

Hello, First of all I’m very sorry if I annoy you. By story I’m a contact LINKEDIN, I allowed myself to write you because I liked your profile, wanted to exchange with you, if that does not cause you any worries. An answer even negative would be much appreciated, pleasure to read further from you. Best regards

Translated from French

Right from the first read, I think there is something that is not working, I pass the typo (as I do it myself also) but the sentences seems not accurate and even a bit strange.

My first reflex is to go read her profile; fact: we have not much in common, not the same area, not same field of work and especially her profile seems quite empty. I do a further research on Linkedin, I found 4 profiles with an identical name, same job and cherry on the cake : the same young woman on the pictures (even if they are different)

I do also some investigations about Caroline Boutique and Caroline Boutik near Ajaccio : nothing on the web, neither on google map, strange for a store…

My credulity scale is now near 0.01%, but I stay careful and polite, I decide to answer at this email like any other:

Good evening Caroline, it will be a pleasure to exchange with you, do you want to talk about management and innovation ? Bye,

This mail doesn’t stay long without an answer and I got what’s follow:

Hello how are you? Well, I hope so? I thank you for accepting my request on Linkedin and also for having given me your e-mail address … As you have seen I am Caroline 33 years old single without children. To be honest with you I am here on Linkedin in search of a friendship and see more if there is affinity. I apologize for using a professional website to meet people but know that my loneliness really gnaws at me and I do not know what to do .. I am from the region of Corsica specifically Ajaccio do you know ?? Where are you from? Are you married? Do you have children? Me, I’m a Clothing Trader and you? I would be very happy to know you better I am attaching photos of me and I hope to please you. cordially

Translated with Google

And now I’m at 0%. Even if I’m aware that some people use Linkedin like Tinder, what is interesting is the beginning of the email: there is no correlation with what I sent previously.

So now is the time to dig more, and I start with the 5 photos: they have been cleaned from all their metadata, impossible to know the date, what kind of device or geolocation. Who does this ? Do you often clean your personal photos ? Even more the one you are sending by email.

A little google images search to see if they are not used anywhere else: the first 4 gave nothing, but the fifth one help me to find a twitter profile using this photo: someone like Marie Berlion!

This profile, like the linkedin’s one, contains (almost) only men: for Caroline Paradis, on the 371 contacts, only 3 are women.

I wanted to know more, to see the next step: but my email had no answer until now. Don’t wanna spend too much time for scam like this, so I blocked everything.

What we learned:

  • Be aware of what kind of informations you are giving, off pro informations
  • Duplicated profile are often synonym of fake account
  • If an email is ambiguous or does not interest you, do not answer it, and even block this email
  • Do not download anything without an antivirus, especially files whose extension seems unknown

Toolbox in case of doubt:

  • Search on the same platform, or related platforms
  • Check the composition of the email address, here caroline.paradis00@gmail.com, seems to be an iteration of a standard email
  • You can use https://pipl.com/ to search for a person
  • Do a similar image search via https://images.google.com

So that’s all for the little story, you can find many others, but remember that the importance is the amount: out of 10000 contacts, scammer needs only one to get trapped for making money.

And we are all concerned: women, men, young, old, single or not. Social Engineering aims to exploit your weaknesses so: Protect Yourself !Et nous sommes toutes et tous concernés : femmes, hommes, jeunes, vieux, célibataires ou non. Ingénierie sociale recherche à exploiter vos faiblesses, alors : Protégez-vous !

First published on LinkedIn.

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