Anyone who jumped at the chance to score a $49 Hewlett-Packard TouchPad Wednesdya found themselves unwitting victims of a long-standing Internet prank.
A spoofed HP website called Hewlett-packard.org.uk snared nearly 1,000 victims yesterday, all of whom went to the fraudulent site to purchase the deeply discounted tablet computer before supplies are exhausted — HP discontinued the TouchPad last week — and ended up getting "Rickrolled" when they clicked the "Add to Cart" button.
(An inside Internet joke that has existed for years, Rickrolling is the action of redirecting Web traffic to a YouTube clip of soul singer Rick Astley singing — and perhaps more importantly dancing to — his 1987 hit "Never Gonna Give You Up.")
At about 2 PST Wednesday, Hewlett-packard.org.uk was taken offline, but not before the prank website, which appeared legitimate, and even contained links to HP's real site, tricked 925 people with the video and a message reading, "srry no hp touchpad! looooool," Computerworld reported.
The fake HP site may have just been a lark, but the website Social-Engineer.org, which first discovered the prank, said the outcome could have been far worse if the site was out for money.
"If this were actually a malicious scammer how many people would have clicked? How many would have inserted credit card info? How many would have put in name, address, phone and email info?" Social-Engineering.org wrote.
To avoid fraudulent websites and keep your identity and online data safe from scammers, be suspicious of any unsolicited offers, or Internet sales that seem too good to be true. And make sure you employ a multilayered defense system for your computer that includes a firewall and up-to-date anti-virus software, a list of which can be found here.