UPDATE: Monday, Lady Gaga's Twitter account was hacked to promote this scam. See below.
When Lady Gaga speaks, her millions of die-hard "little monsters" listen. So when a message appeared on the pop icon's official Facebook page this morning offering the chance to receive a free iPad, hordes of "lucky" fans swarmed to the scam.
The enticing, but malicious, message told Gaga's more than 45 million Facebook fans that her new signature iPad will be coming out in three days, and in the lead-up to its anticipated release, "We will be hosting a massive giveaway to all the Mother Monsters fans."
The contest rules and registration were presented as a link to a Blogspot page, according to Graham Cluley from the security firm Sophos, who spotted the scam. Because Lady Gaga is such a high-profile target, the presence of the bogus iPad offer didn't go unnoticed, and was taken down within an hour.
"However, that wasn't quick enough to stop some people from clicking on the link — in the mistaken belief that they might receive a free iPad from the eccentric singer," Cluley wrote in a blog post.
A screenshot of the scam showed that more than 4,100 people had "liked" it.
"Anyone who clicked on the link, and filled in online forms, may have unwittingly handed their personal information to scammers and potentially helped them earn revenue by completing online surveys," Cluley said.
The perpetrators behind this free iPad contest also hit the Facebook pages of other big-name bands including Maroon 5, Blink-182, Lifehouse and All Time Low.
No matter where you come across an offer like this, for "free" iPads or airline tickets or even something as basic as pizza, be very skeptical and don't immediately take the bait. Online crooks may be and corrupt and immoral, but they are not stupid — they know exactly where to place their scams to receive the most attention.
You can help arm yourself against online thieves' weapons by installing threat-detecting anti-virus software on your computer and keeping it up to date.
UPDATE: The Web-security company Websense reported later Monday that Lady Gaga's Twitter account had been hijacked to promote the same fake iPad scam. Lady Gaga herself later tweeted, "Phew. The hacking is over! And just in time, I'm on my way to Japan! So excited to spend Xmastime with my TokyoMonsters!"
It's not clear how the scammers got control of Gaga's Twitter account, but past celebrity Twitter hijacks have been the result of weak passwords.
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