I try to keep my blog and social media presence positive, however, I recently became aware of a scam floating around LinkedIn, and I wanted to share my experience and hopefully prevent others from falling victim to these scammers.
There is a company currently called AdvisoryCloud. In the past, this company has been known as ExecRanks, TheExecRanks, and AdvisoryCloud.
How the Scam Works
Basically the company (whatever it is called these days) posts ads like the one below on LinkedIn targeting mid level managers for board positions in their local area.
Whether these jobs actually exist at all is something for the local Attorney General to investigate, but customers “apply” for these positions by simply filling out a form with their contact information. Once they do that, you are contacted by a friendly representative from the company who will tell you that you can earn around $30k annually from being on an advisory board, (or get equity).
However, in order to apply, you have to subscribe to their platform and pay a $200 registration fee as well as a non-refundable $195 per month for access to their platform.
What’s Wrong With That?
If the platform actually worked in getting people set up with board memberships, there would be nothing wrong with that. But it doesn’t look like many people (if any) have found success with that. I was suckered into this a few years ago, and my experience was exactly like many of the others. You pay the fee, the platform matches you with opportunities with companies you’ve never heard of, you apply and nothing. The platform even sends you emails saying that Company X invited you to apply… So you apply and nothing… When you call the company, if you manage to get through to anyone, they give you a song and dance about how it takes months to hear anything back. I got the impression that their goal is to keep you as a member as long as possible to extract as much money as possible from the customers.
What Can You Do?
First of all, shame on LinkedIn for allowing this company to post these ads. They are clearly not genuine job ads, and LinkedIn should not be allowing these ads. I have reported them whenever I can, but I would encourage everyone to report these ads to LinkedIn and hopefully we can get them removed.
Why Do You Think This is Fraud?
Firstly, there are TONS of negative reviews out there from real people documenting their experience and it is remarkably similar to mine. The positive reviews seemed to be from people who only posted one review, which suggested to me that they were posted by bogus accounts. Secondly, I started to look into who actually works at these companies to see who they are and their experience. I wanted to see if all these companies are actually all the same or not.
I looked at the domain registration information, and while the ownership information is all blocked, the registration dates are available. ExecRanks was registered on 2015-09-02, and AdvisoryCloud on 2010-07-10. Not particularly interesting, but what about their employees? I did a linkedIn search and found several employees who worked at this company seemed to migrate from AdvisoryCloud to another company called BoardSI. What was interesting however was the dates. It seemed that many AdvisoryCloud employees migrated to BoardSI in 2018.
I spoke with the CEO of BoardSI and had a pleasant conversation with him. BoardSI is a completely different company and has nothing to do with the above companies.
If you see an ad for a board seat and the application is a simple contact form, run away. If they charge you membership for applying for the position, report it and run away.