• Thu. Oct 12th, 2023

PRC Spy “Robin Zhang” Targets UK Professionals on LinkedIn

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ByEsme Greene

Sep 17, 2023
PRC Spy "Robin Zhang" Targets UK Professionals on LinkedIn
Esme Greene
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A shocking revelation by The Times exposes an extended espionage saga wherein an alleged Chinese spy, operating under pseudonyms including Robin Zhang on LinkedIn, systematically targeted and approached UK’s civil servants, academics, and scientists. He dangled lucrative monetary offers and contracts, aiming to trade them for coveted state secrets. British intelligence has identified him as a probable operative of China’s Ministry of State Security. While his real identity remains shielded for intelligence reasons, his modus operandi on LinkedIn stands fully unveiled.

Adopting multiple aliases like Eric Cheng Yixi, Robin Cao, and Lincoln Lam, among others, Zhang concocted profiles representing imaginary security firms based out of Shanghai, frequently masquerading as a representative of the “Hujie Security Services”. These digital avatars cleverly featured images lifted from legitimate profiles or stock photo databases. Despite LinkedIn’s heightened efforts to weed out counterfeit accounts, some assert Zhang remains active, perpetuating his covert operations.

Zhang’s outreach encompassed a wide gamut – from government functionaries and intelligence personnel to scholars privy to classified or commercially valuable data. Although Britons remained his primary targets, he sporadically extended overtures to other nationalities. Depending on the sensitivity and value of the desired information, he offered sums ranging from £6,000 to £8,000, and even more for coveted details on the UK’s counter-terrorism framework. Occasionally, he would lure academics with sponsored trips to China for attending conferences.

Zhang’s solicitation tactics might come across as blunt, but they undeniably gained traction. Starting off by requesting harmless documents for a fee, he would subtly transition to more confidential data. Notably, while numerous LinkedIn users disregarded his advances, an alarming number failed to validate the authenticity of the firms he claimed to represent.

Philip Ingram, an ex-colonel well-versed in counter-intelligence, shared his brush with Zhang. Approached half a decade ago, Zhang exhibited keenness in a report on Britain’s counter-terrorism infrastructure. Ingram’s inherent suspicions, stemming from an inability to authenticate the company Zhang mentioned, led him to promptly sever ties.

Tom Tugendhat, UK’s security minister, accentuates the underlying threat. He cautions not just public servants but also commercial entities, academicians, and researchers about the lurking dangers posed by such concealed Chinese intelligence operations on platforms like LinkedIn. The revelation underscores the need for vigilance in the digitized era, where sensitive information remains perpetually at risk.

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Esme Greene

Esme brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our website, specializing in all aspects of DarkWeb security. With a deep understanding of the intricate workings of the DarkWeb and its associated cybersecurity risks, Esme curates insightful and informative content for our readers.