03:34 GMT +310 December 2019
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    China Using Fake LinkedIn Accounts to Recruit Americans as Spies - Reports

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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Chinese spy agencies are using fake Linkedin accounts to recruit Americans with access to government and commercial secrets, a senior US intelligence official said in an interview.

    Intelligence and law enforcement officials in the United States have warned LinkedIn about the "super aggressive" campaign, which involves contacting thousands of Americans at a time, Director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center William Evanina told Reuters in an exclusive interview.

    The official would not comment on how successful China's efforts were, and would not reveal how many Americans may have been contacted since the start of the campaign.

    But Evanina did identify one person who he said was recruited through the effort, Kevin Mallory, a retired CIA officer who in June was convicted of conspiring to commit espionage for China. Evanina told Reuters that Mallory was contacted by Chinese spies via LinkedIn in 2017 before he agreed to sell China-US defense secrets to Beijing.

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    Evanina suggested that LinkedIn should pursue steps similar to those taken by Twitter and Facebook, which have both recently purged scores of accounts that they claim are linked to Russian and Iranian intelligence agencies. He accused other countries including Russia, Iran and North Korea of using LinkedIn for espionage recruitment, but said China's efforts in this regard are the most prolific and pose the greatest threat.

    LinkedIn's Head of Trust and Safety Paul Rockwell confirmed that US law enforcement agencies have contacted the company about the spying campaign. Rockwell said LinkedIn was doing everything it could to identify individuals involved in the campaign and remove those accounts.

    When contacted by Reuters, China's Foreign Ministry disputed Evanina's accusations, calling them "complete nonsense" and based on "ulterior motives," according to the report.

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    recruiters, spies, LinkedIn, China, United States
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