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updated 4/3/2012 10:48:33 AM ET 2012-04-03T14:48:33

This story was updated at 10 am ET Tuesday (April 3) with a response from Pinterest.

Pinterest is again attracting the unwanted attention of online scammers and identity thieves, who've taken to the social networking bulletin board to hock a variety of fake products.

Pinterest posts began popping up today (April 2) advertising an "amazing weight loss product," Graham Cluley from the security firm Sophos reported. The posts include a variety of enticing thumbnail pictures, from a woman measuring her bare midriff, to an idyllic beach and even a freshly made chicken Parmesan meal.

The message accompanying the pictures reads, "Wow! An amazing new weight loss product sponsored by Pinterest! It worked for me and I didn't even change my diet! Here is where I got it from."

Clicking on the links, however, will take you to a website promoting an açaí berry "miracle diet." Cluley said Sophos has seen several instances of scammers using a similar açaí berry website to keep their scams going.

Cluley added, "It's not clear at this time whether the accounts of Pinterest users have been compromised  by the spammers or whether the accounts have intentionally been set up by spammers to distribute their unwanted advertising messages."

Scammers with their sights set on Pinterest are also trapping victims by getting to them on Facebook first.

Researchers at Bitdefender spotted a paid advertising campaign on Facebook that, in the same vein as the bogus weight-loss claims, promises to show people how they can make money with Pinterest.

"This is an element of novelty as scammers actually seem to be taking money out of their pockets to make sure that their scams hit it big," Bitdefender's Ioana Jelea wrote on the company's Malware City blog.

The money-making ploy starts with an ad; embedded in it is a link that takes people to a Web page featuring a survey that, in exchange for completing, promises people a free Visa gift card.

A similar scam, detected by researchers at GFI Labs, starts instead with an ad spammed out from the Twitter account @Pinterestdep, promising a $150 Visa gift card for responding with your thoughts about Pinterest.

UPDATE: In an email to SecurityNewsDaily, a Pinterest spokesperson said, "as a growing service, Pinterest is not immune to challenges faced by sites across the Web, including spam. However, it is a tremendous priority for us to quickly address them. Our engineers are actively working to manage issues as they arise and are revisiting the nature of public feeds on the site to make it harder for fake or harmful content to get into them."

As on Facebook and Twitter, you should exercise caution when clicking on links on Pinterest, no matter how enticing they appear. To help stay safe from online threats, make sure your computer is running up-to-date anti-virus software  and, as always, think before you click and never divulge any personal or financial information to an unknown or questionable source.

© 2012 SecurityNewsDaily. All rights reserved

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