Pinterest Phishing Expedition: Scammers Target Unsuspecting Pinterest Users

Pinterest, the popular image-based social network with approximately 13 million users, has recently captured the attention of some unwanted users – cybercriminals. Unfortunately, according to Trend Micro, scammers have descended on the popular network and are promising Pinterest users free gift cards and merchandise in exchange for re-pinning an image and completing an online “survey.”


When a Pinterest user clicks the bogus free giftcard or merchandise pins (i.e. the Starbucks pins in the image above), the user’s browser is redirected several times and will eventually land on a “survey” site. The survey site promises the user a free gift in exchange for sensitive information. In addition to phishing, the free survey will also encourage the unknowing user to re-pin the image.

Although the scam was designed to look like a legitimate promotion, users should always exercise extreme caution when entering personal details and information in exchange for a free gift. In addition, Pinterest users should ensure that the web address or URL of the site collecting data aligns with the offer they were previously served. If a user clicks on an offer for a free Starbucks gift card and lands on a web address other than Starbucks, it is likely that the offer is a scam. Currently, Starbucks, Cheesecake Factory, and Coach are a few of the prominent companies that have been targeted by the cybercriminals.

The computer security firm Trend Micro said the following regarding the scam in a recent blog post:

“It’s the same attack we’ve seen before, but on a different social media site. Cybercriminals use names of legitimate brands to convince users to either click a link or visit a particular site.”

Since the Pinterest network is based on the premise of people posting images that link to other websites, it is going to be difficult to prevent legitimate users from this sort of scam moving forward. However, as the social network continues to grow, the security approach and methods will undoubtedly improve and make it more difficult for the scammers to take advantage of unsuspecting users.

[Sources Include: Trend Micro Blog & VentureBeat; Image by: Trend Micro Blog]

Written By:


– During my time as a managing member of an educational startup I gained direct experience related to business development, search engine marketing (SEM), search engine optimization (SEO), conversion rate optimization (CRO), online marketing, mergers and acquisition, product development, and branding. I successfully exited the startup in late 2009 and I am now a freelance internet marketing and brand development consultant.

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One Response to Pinterest Phishing Expedition: Scammers Target Unsuspecting Pinterest Users

  1. Swisstoons says:

    I’ve been using Pinterest to promote my Zazzle shop (with some success), but the site is fast being overrun by image hijackers, spammers and phishing schemers. I now thoroughly check any Pinterest user who has begun following me or who has “Liked” one of my pins. I surmise that they “like” an image to enlarge it to facilitate screenshotting There’s a way to fight back, though, using the “Report Pin” button. Lately, I have been spending at least half an hour a day actively searching out and reporting spam on Pinterest. In their TOS, Pinterest says that if a user repeatedly engages in spamming and phishing, he or she will be blocked. I hope that’s the case.
    After a while, you can almost spot spammers from the names they use: “erline garrity” “lurline colston” “jerrica shoop” “karri ogletree.” Another dead giveaway is the fact that they either have boards stuffed with pins which don’t match each other or the board titles…or numerous boards which contain one pin, each. Drive them off of the site by reporting them!

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