Celebrated British musician Adam Ant is not dead, despite what you may have read in a "real" news article or seen in Twitter's trending topics list.
Rumors of the death of the 1980's pop star, reportedly from a jet ski accident in the Turks and Caicos Islands, have been swirling around the Web today (Jan. 6); the messages, also making the Facebook rounds, point to an online article from the Global Associated News with the full story of the "Goody Two Shoes" singer's accident.
Like all good celebrity death scams, it seems entirely plausible that Ant (born Stuart Leslie Goddard), could, in fact, have died; the story, which says "the musician struck a concrete boat slip in a marina on Parrot Cay" at 8:45 a.m., includes enough pertinent details to seem legitimate. And when's the last time you checked in on the New Wave icon from the '80s?
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant with the security firm Sophos, noticed something fishy with the URL of the Global Associated News website, and decided to do some digging to see if someone was making a mountain out of an "Ant" hill.
"Did you notice the 'adam.ant' in the url? I wonder what happens if I change that to include my own name," Cluley wrote.
Not only is the story about Adam Ant fake, but that URL for the "news" story is actually a death scam template, allowing users to make up stories about anyone. Just insert your name into the browser bar and you can die in a horrific jet ski accident in the Turks and Caicos Islands, too.
To be fair, the Global Associated News site includes a disclaimer on the page indicating that the story is "a totally fake article based on zero truth and is a complete work of fiction for entertainment purposes!"
But imagine if this site hid some malicious code, or asked users to enter their name and address to read more, or even silently harvested their bank account credentials in the background. These types of scams happen every day, which is why you should be careful about trending topics on Twitter, and not blindly click on links from your Facebook friends even if they seem legitimate.