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LinkedIn Is China’s Newest Espionage Tool, German Spies Warn

Germany’s domestic security agency has warned that Chinese intelligence has been creating fake social networking profiles, particularly on LinkedIn, to gather information about German politicians and officials.

In an unusual move, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV) on Sunday released details of some of the fake social networking profiles that it said had made contact with at least 10,000 Germans, in order to recruit possible information sources.

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Example of these fake profiles include headhunters called Rachel Li and Allen Liu, a thinktank manager called Laeticia Chen, and a character called Jason Wang who wants to “improve communication and cooperation between France, the EU and China.”

Hans-Georg Maaßen, the BfV head, described the tactic as a “new means of attack in the digital space.”

“The modus operandi is almost always the same,” the agency said in a report. “Supposed scientists, employment agents and headhunters contact people with a significant personal profile. They are lured in with enticing offers and eventually invited to China, where the intelligence-gathering commences.”

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However, the Chinese foreign ministry strongly denied the agency’s accusations.

“We hope the relevant German organizations, particularly government departments, can speak and act more responsibly and not do things that are not beneficial to the development of bilateral relations,” ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, according to Reuters.