Chinese Spies Use Linkedin to Find American Contacts

Top government leaders told NPR that federal agencies are years behind where they could have been if Chinese cybertheft had been openly addressed earlier. Bill Hinton Photography/Getty Images
Bill Hinton Photography/Getty Images

A Chinese agent has admitted to using the career-focused social media platform LinkedIn’s “relentless” algorithm to find batches of U.S. government contacts with access to sensitive information. The spying operation would then gather data and send it to the communist regime in Beijing.

The Washington Post reports that a Singaporean man alleged to be an agent of the Chinese government claims that he used LinkedIn’s “relentless” algorithm to track down large batches of U.S. government contacts, telling investigators that collecting the info “felt almost like an addiction.”

The man, named Dickson Jun Wei Yeo, pleaded guilty on July 23 to being an illegal agent of China who claimed to be a student to travel to the U.S. and acquire “nonpublic information” for Beijing. Part of his plan involved recruiting Americans to write pair reports for his fake think tank.

Yeo admitted to using a “professional networking website” which the Washington Post alleges it LinkedIn to find government and military contacts who may have access to sensitive information.

“According to Yeo, the website’s algorithm was relentless,” the signed admission states. Yeo stated that he checked the site “almost every day to review the new batch of potential contacts suggested to him by the site’s algorithm,” telling investigators “that it felt almost like an addiction.”

Yeo then paid those contacts between $1,000 and $2,000 for reports on topics including the sales of F-35 aircraft to Japan and the U.S.-China trade war. The reports were mainly academic in nature but were submitted to contacts that Yeo knew were Chinese intelligence agents.

The New York Times reported last year that LinkedIn was the “prime hunting ground” where “Chinese spies are most active.” Yeo returned to the United States in November planning to ask an Army officer to provide classified information and to reveal that the was working for the Chinese government. Instead, law enforcement questioned and arrested him on arrival.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address


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