If there's a tech media outlet that didn't report a recent study that concluded Internet Explorer users were dumber than users of other browsers, they should be applauded.

Most reputable publications, however, may have been fooled by a fake study that said IE users were dumber than users of other browsers. CBS News, BBC, CNN, Time, Forbes and even International Business Times were a few of the seemingly hundreds of news organizations that were fooled by this story. It was reported that a "psychometric consulting company" by the name of AptiQuant supposedly released a report on the effects of cognitive ability on the choice of Web browser.

The company said it offered IQ tests to more than 100,000 people in English-speaking countries and took the average IQ scores based on the browser on which the test was taken. The result was Internet Explorer users were the dumbest.

However, after digging up some information, the BBC has reported that the whole thing may have been fraudulent. The BBC says AptiQuant had only set up their Web site in the past month, and its only staff images were stolen from a legitimate company in Paris named Central Test.

AptiQuant had reported several other studies previous to the IE one, mostly on the subject of psychometrics. However, it didn't get any publicity until the IE study.

One clue could have been the accompanying research to the IE story. It was pretty sparse, with the PDF a mere six pages. Two of those pages were analysis, whereas the rest were graphs. When research firms like Gartner put out a press release on a study, there is usually an accompanying link to a more thorough analysis.

The article was questioned by Cambridge University's Statistical Laboratory professor David Spiegelhalter, who said the figures AptiQuant provided were "implausibly low." He told BBC they were an insult to IE users.

After the IE-users-are-dumb story, AptiQuant followed that up with another story whereby it said it was threatened with a lawsuit from IE users. Leonard Howard, the chief executive of AptiQuant, said he received hate mail from IE users.

What's not clear is if Leonard Howard actually exists or if this is someone pulling a prank.

AptiQuant did not respond to a request for comment. When a number listed for AptiQuant was called, it went to voice mail. The voice mail did not specify who the listed number belonged to.