Free Giveaway Marketing “Scam” on LinkedIn

Free Giveaway Marketing “Scam” on LinkedIn

Today while browsing through LinkedIn, I saw something that triggers my curiosity:

Free Giveaway Marketing "Scam" on LinkedIn

I have no interest in the ppts but I have always wanted to know how this kind of “free giveaway of great resources” works. So I opened it up to see:

Okay, this looks quite normal, asking for email in order to send you this template.

Maybe they are also collecting emails for marketing purposes? That certainly seems quite reasonable for a free giveaway.

So I opened the “You Exec” link at http://youexec.com/ and …

The website has nothing to do with the powerpoints at all:

It is basically a fancy landing page asking you to sign up a newsletter for “professionals”.

Now this looks really sketchy, the website for entering the email to get the free resource does not even mention the free resource. Besides the total disconnection between the powerpoint resources and the website, something else is also not right in this sentence:

Follow this link and submit your email so we can send you the download link when it is ready – http://www.youexec.com

“When it is ready”? It looks like the person does not even have the resources that she claimed to be giving away.

Okay fine, you enter your email into a totally unrelated newsletter in hope that this person will eventually do her job and send you the ppt resources. However, what about these images and videos of the ppt templates shown in the post?

I felt like these have to be the real templates done by someone, because why would you spend time designing a bunch images showcasing non-existent templates when you can design the actual templates?

Digging deeper, I found that this is actually a copy-paste post from someone else:

Copied post by Lauren Arroyo:

Original post by Omid Sadeghpour:

Now this is interesting. The original post has gathered more than 100k comments, so why a repost?

Is Lauren Arroyo stealing the post for her own purposes? Nope, both posts refer the viewers to sign up the same website You Exec.

So why would a successful “scam” campaign for a website start a new post by someone else? Something is not right.

Digging through Omid Sadeghpour’s activities, I found the answer:

So the ppt template was indeed someone else’s work at graphicriver.net, and Omid Sadeghpour is basically using it for the marketing of his (or his client’s) website. That sounds like a horrible exploitation of the original creator to me.

Now the question is, did Omid Sadeghpour actually violate the copyright or license of the original work, assuming that he has indeed purchased the Extended License? The answer is yes:

The license terms on the website explicitly disallowed this kind of distributions:

You can’t use the Item in any application allowing an end user to customise a digital or physical product to their specific needs, such as an “on demand”, “made to order” or “build it yourself” application. You can use the Item in this way only if you purchase a separate license for each final product incorporating the Item that is created using the application.

So if these marketing people indeed eventually send you the template, they would be violating the terms of the license, and you are also a culprit of intellectual theft. Sounds scary huh?

Chances are, these marketing people are also quite smart. Understanding the license terms, they would never actually send you the template and hence avoid breaking any terms and conditions. After All, they did say they will send it “when it is ready”.

On a brighter side of the story, some users have found out about the issue. They also appeared to have paid the original author of the template:

I can now sleep in peace knowing that the author is at least getting something back in return.

I hope in future, people would check before blinding signing up for this kind of marketing schemes. Your action might not only hurt yourself, it can hurt someone else as well.


Update:

Just after writing this blog post, I found another one of this marketing campaign in my LinkedIn feed (kudos to LinkedIn feed algorithm): https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/spend-too-much-time-powerpoint-excel-get-free-plugin-david-price. This one is older than the one that I talked about in this post. It does mentioned the powerpoint templates on the website when asking for the email so it does a slightly better job.

Update 2:

On 24 Apr,  published another article named Get Summaries of the Top 101 Business Books Ever Written, for Free., similarly promoting the website http://youexec.com/. As of now, the post has already gotten more than 16k comments. Interestingly, this time he included a legal page for the website: http://youexec.com/legal

Update 3:

Through some referral links to this post, I managed to locate Omid Sadeghour on Reddit promoting another post on LinkedIn about free templates, this time for résumé. Looks legit, hope they are doing well this time.


More interesting stories on LinkedIn:

Tech Recruiter Uses Fake Command in Cybersecurity Job Ad

4 comments

  1. Thanks for the research. There are many things wrong with what he did. I copied your link into my reply as this is a deceptive effort to use (steal) someone else’s work by violating the license, misrepresenting the intent of the post, allowing the link to perpetuate. It’s all unethical.

    1. Hi. Thanks for the reply. I am seeing a lot of traffic from LinkedIn to this post. May I know if this post is being shared somewhere public on LinkedIn? I didn’t mask all the people’s name in this post and I hope I did not violate anyone’s privacy.

  2. Thanks for the write-up! I tried to figure out how this thing worked after seeing a couple of posts (and people falling for it) in my feed. Your post was the first thing I came across. I did some more digging and found that the guy posting these things sees it as an ‘experiment’, or at least says so in this blog post by him: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/google-facebook-ad-traffic-90-useless-omid-sadeghpour

    It’s interesting though. I was thinking there had to be something else going on behind this (harvesting email addresses, connections, names or whatever), but if it’s true, then it’s just a really well executed one-man marketing trick.

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