When Al Gore created the information superhighway, he didn't account for wrong turns, most notably the frontage-road hucksters you encounter after you punch in a typo'd web address.
You all know the story: Mimicking the look of the website you meant to go to, these organizations instead present you some junk offer about free products -- just for taking their "30-second survey!" -- in exchange for filling out a form with your personal information, naturally.
This is 2011, so hardly anyone should be fooled by this sleight-of-hand fuckery. For instance, "Hey guys did you hear that Twitter selected me to take part in their survey and I could win a free MacBook?" sounds like a setup to a joke already. But these scams are still happening.
Bookmarks and iPhone apps have kept most of us from typing in web addresses over the last few years -- and they are the best route around these pitfalls. So perhaps the only folks who end up here deserve to be hit with gold-plated turds because they're too lazy to create bookmarks. But, still, there oughta be a law against these sites, validity of the business be damned.
Here are the five worst offenders. Please add yours in the comments.
5. Twiter.com Hello, person who expected to be taken to your Twitter page. You've just been hooked. This company, Social Update Panel, (with this completely sketchy "About Us" page), owns Twiter.com, which greets you with the "What's Happening?" opening line, which feels like a response normal Twitter would provide to users who expected to be greeted by the normal Twitter home page. If you're not paying attention, this company cashes in on Twitter's brand and your loyalty.
4. Fcebook.com This unintended page is owned by SocialAwardSurvey.com, and when one looks up the IP address, the phone number is listed as 45.36946676. When one Googles that phone number, a variety of consumer-advocacy sites relating to scams result.
3. Gmil.com Strangely, the fine -- and we do mean fine: very small and in light gray -- print on this page states: "© 2011 All rights reserved. This is an advertisement. This website is not sponsored by or affiliated with Yahoo. Participation required." Yes, Yahoo. It's clearly a Gmail.com typo, yet it states "Yahoo" there. Legal coverage, maybe. Shady, yes. Also of note, this site immediately presents you with a "Congratulations" pop-up, which should be an instant indication (as if the page wasn't already) that you took a wrong turn.
2. Yutube.com I see what you did there, Yutube.com. You made "Thank You" look like the YouTube logo -- which, if punched in the face a dozen times and fed a bottle of whiskey, I might be fooled into thinking was legitimately affiliated with YouTube. And when you try to close the browser tab for YuTube.com? You're presented with this shit. I'm all for Internet freedom and keeping the government out of the online space, but I do wish for an Internet mafia, providing protection to regular folks from these con artists. To Google Chrome's credit, though, whenever I quickly make this mistake, I'm presented with a warning that YuTube.com may phish for my personal information.
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1. Gmai.com Wonderful use of the Gmail-like lettering, here. Why would the Number 1 website in the world -- Google -- slam you in the face with its automatic audio greeting of "CONGRATULATIONS!"? They wouldn't, actually. The "About Us" link takes you somewhere strikingly similar -- too similar, in fact, to the socialupdatepanel.com page. This is the worst just for the automatic audio. All you wanted to do was check your Gmail, and you're being baited and switched by this company. And what's worse, if you're at work just trying to check your personal e-mail, you'll be hit with not only this page, but probably a scolding from your boss, who overheard the audio.