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Walnut Founder Creates Fake LinkedIn Profile Using AI, Receives Message from VC within 24 hours


On Monday, Rohan Patel, the founder and CEO of the financial technology firm Walnut, shared an intriguing tale on Twitter. He revealed how he leveraged artificial intelligence to create a fake LinkedIn profile for a founder and received a message from a venture capitalist in just a few hours.

Using an AI tool called “This Person Does Not Exist,” Rohan Patel created a fake profile for a founder named “Chad Smith” and included a realistic image to complete the profile. Patel added false information that Chad Smith had attended a prestigious university to study computer science from 2019 to 2021 but dropped out of Stanford. Additionally, the fake profile mentioned that Smith had worked at Stripe Inc, a San Francisco-based fintech company, for over a year in the strategy and operations department, despite having no real experience there.

In the profile’s “about” section, Roshan Patel described Chad Smith as a “polymath, 2x founder, coder, entrepreneur.”

After creating the fake LinkedIn profile for “Chad Smith,” Roshan Patel was taken aback when he received a message from a venture capital representative expressing interest in Smith’s founder journey. In the message, the analyst from an undisclosed VC firm mentioned that he had heard positive things about Smith from former colleagues at Stripe and expressed a desire to learn more about Smith’s project and share more about the VC firm’s fund.

“Hey Chad – I’m an analyst for XXXX ventures and saw you were starting your founder journey. A few ex-Stripe buddies of mine had great things to say about you and I’d love to connect to learn more about what you’re building and share more about our fund,” the message from the man reads.

Roshan shared screenshots of the message on Twitter, but he obscured the name of the venture capital firm and its representative. Nonetheless, it was apparent that the VC firm had contacted the fake LinkedIn profile with the intent of investing in Chad Smith’s new ventures.

Roshan Patel’s experiment with creating a fake LinkedIn profile using AI highlights the potential for misuse of this technology in the wrong hands. The ease with which Patel was able to generate a realistic image and create a seemingly legitimate profile for a non-existent individual underscores the need for ethical guidelines around the use of AI.

The experiment also reveals how easily people can be misled by fake profiles and the importance of verifying the identity and background of individuals before engaging with them, particularly in the context of fundraising or other financial transactions.

One user commented humorously, that they knew several individuals who had worked at Stripe, and none of them spoke positively about Chad Smith. Another user said that the message sent to the fake profile was unnerving and could be used as material for a remake of the movie “American Psycho.”