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article imagePinterest gains in user popularity, scammers follow

By Leigh Goessl     Mar 18, 2012 in Internet
It's inevitable that any website that becomes populated with users will become a favored breeding ground for scammers.
Facebook and Twitter have long been afflicted, and now the proverbial new kid on the social circuit is being targeted.
Pinterest has seemingly sparked the attention of exploiters as visitor traffic grows.
Several security software companies, such as Symantec and Trend Micro, have reported scams are emerging on the rapidly growing social sharing website. Tried and true scams, such as fake freebies, and other attractive misleading lures, are beginning to become commonplace on the virtual corkboard website. Not unlike other scams, free gift cards are being promised, and of course, these are not real offers.
These scams also mimic other fraudulent links that have popped up on other networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. They are also not unlike the fake video and survey scams that have been plaguing Facebook, as these survey scams are now making the rounds on Pinterest.
"If an unsuspecting Pinterest user clicks on the link for one of the scam images, he or she is taken to an external website," Symantec researcher Nishant Doshi said in a blog post. "The website states that in order to take advantage of the offer, they must re-pin the offer onto their own Pinterest board. This helps propagate the scam, as it now gains further credibility by being posted by a trusted source. Some of the trusted source's followers subsequently fall for the same scam, then their followers as well, and so on."
Security company Trend Micro noted a couple of prominent scams, such as one offering free Starbucks' gift cards and another that indicated "luxury brand Coach was giving away free wallets and purses to users if they visit a particular site." Trend Micro said these scams mimic earlier incarnations of scams by using brand names to entice victims.
The new social site that s actually achieving something in the marketplace  at last.
The new social site that's actually achieving something in the marketplace, at last.
Scammers stand to gain a lot of money by tricking Pinterest users. Symantec noted that with each successful conversion gotten from surveys, they can make between one and 64 U.S. dollars, which includes collecting information. If this is the case, Pinterest makes for a rather lucrative venture for swindlers to focus. Symantec's post offers greater detail and screen shots on how these fraudsters are operating.
Softpedia recently reported on several vulnerabilities present on Pinterest and brought these to the network's attention, and then updated to report Pinterest had responded rapidly to the issues.
According to SC Magazine, "A statement from Pinterest said the company's engineers are working hard to fix security issues on the site and are finding ways to ensure that "fake or harmful content" doesn't make it on to public feeds."
Mashable reported that one security researcher said Pinterest's easy to use interface is attractive to users, which also in turn attracts scammers.
Catalin Cosoi, chief security researcher at the antivirus software provider BitDefender said, “It’s very tricky because, so far, for Facebook and Twitter it’s quite easy to spot a scam — you have to install an app or follow a certain link,” Cosoi says. “With Pinterest, on the other hand, it’s only a picture you have to click on or re-pin.”
Experts frequently note, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is a scam. If you use Pinterest, or any other social network, it's a good idea to keep this sentiment in mind.
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