A report claiming Internet Explorer users scored lower on IQ tests than users of other Web browsers turned out to have been an elaborate hoax spreading across the entire Web.

The report, supposedly based on a survey of 100,000 Internet users, was released last week by what appeared to be a Vancouver-based, Web-consulting firm called Aptiquant.

Major news outlets - including CNN, the BBC, NPR, CNET, Forbes and London's Daily Mail and Telegraph - reported the story last week, as did multiple technology blogs, yet the BBC reported Wednesday that readers raised questions about the authenticity of the study.

AptiQuant, a self-proclaimed "world leader in the field of online psychometric testing," claimed to have published the results of an online study that tested the IQs of users and grouped the results according to which browser respondents used.

The results purported to show that users of Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera were all slightly above average in IQ test results, but Microsoft Internet Explorer users tended to be lower on the IQ scale.

“Questions about the authenticity of the story were raised by readers of the BBC website who established that the company which put out the research - AptiQuant - appeared to have only set up its website in the past month,” the BBC reported in its follow-up investigation.

Graham Cluley, senior security analyst at Sophos, examined the fake website for the BBC after concerns were raised. "It's obviously very easy to create a bogus site like this -- as all phishers know it's easy to rip-off someone else's webpages and pictures," Cluley added.