Pinterest Scam Aimed at Foodies

Pinterest scams have been on the rise as the site gains popularity, and today I noticed a new one that seems to be using photography from food blogs to trick people. Specifically they are using people who pin recipes by tricking them into distributing (repinning) their bogus seed links.

After I posted the Avocado-Carrot Salad on Monday, I noticed that my recipe quickly made its way onto Pinterest. I counted 3 separate pins along with 59 repins (and counting) as of tonight. Hooray! I was very happy that people were pinning it to their food inspiration boards.

Those pins were legit and linking back to this site, as they should. Here is an example of one of the legit pins. You can see that it links back to my site since I am the original author. Thanks guys! 🙂

Then I noticed something else. There were other pins of the exact same photo (lots of them), only these were not linking to my site. Check out all of these pins for my salad to see what I mean (as of 7:26pm the numbers were growing). A search for “avocado carrot” shows an explosion of my salad photo. Update April 12, 2012: Most of the bad pins have been removed, and only a few remain. If you click on these pins, you’ll notice that most DO NOT link to my site, but instead link to, as shown in the screenshot below.

Pinterest Scam Bait

My first thought was that it was a scummy content farm that scrapped my post and was using it as their own, and someone saw and pinned it from there. Unfortunately this is common and can create duplicate content issues along with not giving credit to the original author. Curious, I clicked on the link. Much to my surprise, instead of being a copycat blog with scraped content, these pins were being linked to a spoof Pinterest page set up as a phishing scheme.

Pinterest Scam Site

Notice the URL, the original (or similar) quickly redirects to At a glance, it looks like The URL seems vaguely familiar, the interface is nearly spot on (minus the top menu bar). Except there is a message asking you to click on a link to “prove you are human”. In my case, the mention of an iPad 2 and Best Buy gift card were a dead giveaway that this was a spoof site. 😦 However, they are using all kinds of different messages to try to lure unsuspecting foodies into clicking.

One example is using the following text:

“Browse recipes using the Recipe Tool. To continue, install the tool to look at thousands of recipes. Download Now”

It contains the Pinterest logo and seems like it could be legit, users may think that Pinterest has a new recipe tool that they might be eager to try out.

Scam, scam, scam.

I obviously did not click to find out what the scam is. It could be a scam survey used to gain personal information, or it could be a virus. It could be anything, but you can bet that it is malicious.

As for the people who are pinning these bad links, I don’t think all are even aware that they are doing so. I think that most people just see a photo of a food dish (or purse, or dress, or fill-in-the-blank) and just say “Oh that looks good! Pin!”, without ever visiting the site to see where the link actually leads. People are busy and they don’t have time to research every link they are pinning or repinning. They should check out the links, but reality is that most don’t until they have a little time later and want to actually make the recipe. Meanwhile, they are unknowingly spreading the bad seed of these new Pinterest scams, and the damage grows and grows.

I’m sure this is happening with other categories, but right now I am noticing this happening with photos of recipes from food blogs in particular.

If you have a food blog, check Pinterest for your photos, and if any are linking to a site like the one above report them to the folks at Pinterest. This might be hard to keep up on, but keep your eyes open for it.

And if you are a Pinterest user, take a moment to look at the URL of the photo you are pinning! Make sure that it is a legit site before adding it to your boards and sharing it with everyone. After all, you wouldn’t want your friends and followers to click on your pins and become a victim of a scam. In the end, you are responsible for the links you share.

Categories: Food | Tags: , | 17 Comments

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17 thoughts on “Pinterest Scam Aimed at Foodies

  1. Atomic

    We’ve been hitting these pins almost daily. Some even seem to direct back to real sites, before redirecting to a page that wants you to load a virus named “Pinterest Tool” or “Pinterest Viewer”. Today was the worst day we’ve seen for this fake pinning, which led us to your blog post. Most of these links have not been removed, due to the fact that they seem to be popping up on Pinterest as fast as they can be reported.

    Everyone check if the URL is legit before repinning!!

    • I read somewhere that a good way to handle this is to just “like” a pin if you don’t have time to check out the source. Then, when you have more time, go back and check the source and then repin it.

  2. bree

    It already got me.

  3. Thanks for this post! Is there a way for us to report bad pins? I can’t find anything about it. I have discovered that anything that says it was pinned from our-favoriterecipes.blogspot links to pintrerets. I’ve tried to comment when I find this site but would like to do more.

    • Thanks for being concerned and helping to report spam.

      How to report spam on Pinterest:

      There is a “Report Pin” button to the right of each pin. You can click on that to report it. You can also comment on other people’s pins to let them know that the content they are pinning is spam.

      Unfortunately spammers have caught on that many people use this site. Many spammers themselves are joining Pinterest just to plant these bad pins out there and most people do not check the links from the things they are repinning. So many look like legit websites (such as the one you mentioned, but redirect.

      Be careful, and when in doubt, “like” a pin first and then repin it once you have the time to check it out. Also don’t ever give your login credentials, or download anything. Watch your URL string and make sure it is not redirecting.

  4. Hi All,

    I’m the admin for a food blog and I noticed we were getting referral traffic from a blog called “essentialrecipe” and when you trace the link it takes you to a site called “pintrerets” with a popup, which has the actual Pinterest logo, telling the visitor to download the Pinterest Tool.

    I did a little investigating and found this user profile on Blogger:

    Notice how there’s a list of blogs there that lead to empty pages.

    Perhaps there’s a way to stop this person by reporting to Blogger?

    I went to the following link at Blogger to report the abuse:

    Hope that helps!

    • Thanks for reporting the abuse to Blogger, Michael.

      Let’s keep the food blog community clean, pure and free of spam! Spam is NOT a food! 😉

    • GR

      The problem is that sometimes the link goes to a phishing site, and sometimes it redirects and goes to the correct website. So even if people check to verify the pin before pinning, it may or may not appear to be a valid pin.

    • I just got a trackback for one of the blogs listed on that profile (kimsdeliciousness) I’ve reported it and posted about it. It really ticks me off when scammers ruin a good thing!

  5. Mysti

    The version I saw (and reported) today links to a blog, but the full URL has code to pop up the “install Pinterest tool” dialog. Manually going direct to the root URL reveals the blog does exist, but is empty. This scam is continuing to evolve.

  6. Sigh.

    Bunch of traffic from the user Michael posted about, also reported it. There is “install this evil thing” code in the templates so it loads even without a post. Be careful out there, kids.

  7. Pingback: Do not fall for this Pinterest Scam! | A Hen's Nest

  8. Thank you! Just discovered this scam ourselves and am so glad to have found your post about it. Blech. (Good google juice, mama!)

  9. Crystal B

    I’ve been having trouble with this today, however, I think I’ve found a way to get around it. Using Firefox, when you hover over the pin picture, the lower left corner of the screen shows a URL. Inside this URL, there is a SECOND address, starting with http etc, that is the original page. Manually typing that into your browser will take you where you want to go. It’s worked several times, though sometimes the URL that shows up is too long and gets truncated.

  10. Claire

    Thank you for this! I came across a recipe pin that did the same, googled it, and here I am! Thanks again!

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