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'Dumb IE users' report faked, admits scam's architect

But French firm whose corporate identity was stolen not laughing

August 3, 2011 02:29 PM ET

Computerworld - A report issued last week that claimed users of Microsoft's Internet Explorer have lower IQs than those who run rival browsers was a hoax.

In a blog today on a fake company's website, the perpetrator of the scam admitted the whole thing was a put-on.

"There is no company called AptiQuant, and no such survey was ever done," the blog read. "This was all meant to be a lighthearted joke."

No name accompanied the blog but it directed users to the comparison shopping website, AtCheap.com. Someone named Tarandeep Gill has been listed in earlier AtCheap press releases as the company's contact.

But the French firm whose website was pillaged to bolster the bogus report may not find anything funny in the prank.

"We only found about this today, after journalists asked us for information," said Patrick Leguide, the founder and president of Central Test, a French firm that develops psychometric tests for recruiters, career guidance counselors, career managers and corporate staff development teams.

Earlier Wednesday, media outlets including the BBC noted similarities between Central Test's website and that of AptiQuant, the company revealed today as bogus.

Last week, AptiQuant released a report claiming Internet Explorer (IE) users had lower IQs on average than people who ran other browsers, such as Google's Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox. ApiQuant's report was picked up by numerous blogs and publications, and created a stir of controversy, as is often the case when followers of Microsoft and its competitors face off.

Much of that hullabaloo stemmed from the headline AptiQuant used to describe its report: "Is Internet Explorer For The Dumb? A New Study Suggests Exactly That."

AptiQuant, which billed itself as a Canadian company, raised suspicions because its website was registered just three weeks ago, according to WHOIS records. Further probing by reporters then discovered that portions of the AptiQuant website had been lifted from that of Central Test's, including personnel photos and client claims. Computerworld could not find a listing in the Canadian government's business registry for AptiQuant today.

"It was strange to see my photograph with someone else's name," said Leguide in an interview Tuesday.

On the AptiQuant site, Leguide's photograph was labeled "Leonard Howard," whose bio claimed he had "master degrees in both Cognitive Psychology and Business Management."

On Central Test's site, Leguide's bio reads: " Master degrees in both Cognitive Psychology (Paris V) and Business Management (IAE, Paris Sorbonne)."

Photos of several other members of the Central Test executive team were also repurposed on the AptiQuant site, where the names had been changed. Graphic designer Rianala Randriambololana of Central Test became, for instance, Kumar Ramarangranathan on AptiQuant.

In a statement posted on its website today, Central Test denied any connection to AptiQuant.

"Central Test noticed the fraudulent use of its identity by AptiQuant, a Canadian company and deny any direct or indirect link with the above mentioned company," the statement read.



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