During the last months I have seen a growing in fake Linkedin profiles and false companies trying to extend their criminal activities to our business.
I want to share with you a couple of examples:
The CEO of a company that offers a broad range of services for Business Aviation (coordination with FBOs, manufacturer's, luxury brands, etc.) contacted me through Linkedin to ask about our services. Nothing unusual. We sent our brochure and he asked us for a contract with them to be broker of our services. As they were asking for more confidential information like prices, management details, etc. I asked them also for more information about his company.
They have a quite good website with different pages, contact information, logos of Business Aviation manufacturers, they have Facebook, Linkedin pages and 3 employees with their respective Linkedin profiles, with many contacts and belonging to Groups like EBAA.
Anyway, as they were quite reluctant to send us information like VAT number or other company details I begun to investigate more in deep. I found that the pictures of the Linkedin profiles were false. In fact the picture of one of the employees was taken from a Turkish actress. The company was registered in the UK but the address in the website was false, and the real company was broken. None of the names of the real broken company had any relation with the false profiles.
After writing them some e-mails requesting more information they never answer and I decided to block them from our Linkedin Group.
This has been the most complex fake estructure I have found but not the only one. Some months ago we were looking for a G450 for a client and we received an offer from an American based company that had a "wonderful" unit at a very good price. I asked for more details and asking price and they told us that due to they confidentiality rules I had to sign some documents before giving me more information. They sent us a contract to be signed by our client, with an initial deposit not refundable, where they had the obligation during 2 years to make any deal only through them, without knowing any s/n or price.
I don't think this is a fake company like the other case, they are just unscrupulous brokers looking for people without experience in the business.
They have also a website offering almost any model in the market from Airbus 380 to Lears, Cessnas or whatever. They used to say that they were "EASA approved brokers" with many logos of FAA, EASA, EBAA, etc but they removed them. They have a team around the world but I also investigated a few of them, and found they were fake.
Please, be aware of this kind of threats, scam & phishing, in Business Aviation and in case of any doubt ask your colleagues or local Aviation Organisations to be sure you don't begin a business with fake people. You can loose millions with this.