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Is firm's mystery employee really an Iranian spy?

PUBLISHED: 15:42 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 07:47 06 September 2019

Kate Morfoot's messages to Mr Fazli who claimed on LinkedIn that he was employed by Norwich firm Jungle PR. Pictures: supplied by Kate Morfoot

Kate Morfoot's messages to Mr Fazli who claimed on LinkedIn that he was employed by Norwich firm Jungle PR. Pictures: supplied by Kate Morfoot

A Norfolk boss was left puzzled after a mystery man claimed he was employed by her firm - and now experts believe he could even be an Iranian spy.

Kate Morfoot, owner of Jungle PR based in Norfolk. Pic: Kate MorfootKate Morfoot, owner of Jungle PR based in Norfolk. Pic: Kate Morfoot

Kate Morfoot, who runs Jungle PR, based in Yaxham, near Dereham, discovered the fake worker when asked to connect with him on the social media platform LinkedIn.

And even more curious was the fact the 30-year-old Iranian "marketing expert" claimed to have been employed in the business for longer than it had actually existed.

Pouria Fazli, who has 17 followers and listed as a webmaster with Jungle since January 1988, was someone Mrs Morfoot had never even heard of never mind interviewed and then employed.

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Kate Morfoot's messages to Mr Fazli. Pic: Kate MorfootKate Morfoot's messages to Mr Fazli. Pic: Kate Morfoot

"Pouria Fazli ... my new employee from Iran who has worked for my company longer than the 15 years it's been going," she said. "His profile popped up as someone I should connect with. I couldn't believe it when I saw my Jungle PR branding and he stated he worked there."

Mrs Morfoot reported it to LinkedIn a week ago and even messaged him.

She admits she was a little taken aback when he replied: "Hi Kate, how are you?" She asked him to delete the reference to her firm and although he said he would two days ago he still hasn't.

And now cyber experts have warned it could be more than just an honest mistake.

Kate Morfoot's messages to Mr Fazli on LinkedIn. Pic: ArchantKate Morfoot's messages to Mr Fazli on LinkedIn. Pic: Archant

Deborah Cubbin, co-founder of Norwich-based cyber security experts Cyberfen, tracked Mr Fazli down on Facebook. He is listed as working for Jangal Publications based in Tehran which sells books written in English.

Mrs Cubbin said: "He may have clicked on Jungle PR instead of Jangal by mistake but I don't know why he hasn't deleted it because you can do this straight away.

"The more dark side is he could be working for intelligent services in Tehran. People do set up fake profiles to add kudos to themselves. People do this as social engineering, and if companies approach them for say, interest in their work, they will then send them a link to their 'previous work' and they are into your computer."

Worryingly Mrs Cubbin also found another fake employee listed as working for Mrs Morfoot's company, who is allegedly based in Marseille, France.

Elliott Peacock, director of Netmatters, another cyber security expert, based in Wymondhanm, advised Mrs Morfoot and owners of all businesses to check social media profiles carefully.

Mr Peaccock said: "Impostering is usually to obtain company ideas or information but usually it's with very large organisations which don't pick it up. The problem is LinkedIn can take up to a year to sort it out so it's better to make checks yourself regularly."

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Both Mr Fazli and LinkedIn were not available to comment.

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