First up, don’t worry, Rowan Atkinson has NOT died.
The man behind such characters as Mr Bean, Blackadder and Johnny English is alive and well, but rumours about his death have been circulating on the internet for rather sinister reasons.
A fake ‘breaking news’ story has been shared on social media reporting that the actor and comedian died in a car crash while attempting a stunt.
The photoshopped post is made to look as if the news is coming from Fox News, along with a photo of the actor and the caption ‘R.I.P 1955-2017’, as well as a video play button.
For example (don’t worry, this is just an image):
However, clicking the play button won’t play a video of a news report or anything like that. Instead you will be taken to a website that appears to host the video about Atkinson’s death, according to Hoax Slayer.
However, when you try to play the video, a message pops up saying you must complete a security check and share it on Facebook before you can continue. A Facebook share box will appear in a new tab in your browser, and the original page will be automatically redirected to a scam or malware site.
The exact destination may vary – it could be a ‘security error’ page, claiming your computer has a virus and prompting you to install malware or call a ‘support number’. Or it could take you to a dodgy ‘survey’ site, which offers prizes in exchange for your personal details when you sign up.
Some people fell for it, unforunately:
My favorites comedian or entertainer of all time I grow up watching her on TV this is the power of the man that he give smile on face of the world without saying a word #R.I.P #mrbean #rowanatkinson #rowansebastianatkinson #johnnyenglish @MrBean pic.twitter.com/eiVO85uOqa
— Māyâñk Bhørïyā (@MayankBhoriya) July 19, 2018
In any case, it’s safe to say – do not click on these links, download anything from these sites or call any numbers.
As Hoax Slayer says:
Be wary of any celebrity death message that comes your way via social media, SMS, or email. Before clicking or sharing, check the death claim by searching a legitimate news portal such as Google News. If a famous person has died, his or her demise will almost certainly receive widespread coverage in the mainstream news media.
Also, close any window or website that asks you for third party information before allowing you to watch a video.
Strangely, this isn’t the first time Rowan Atkinson was the victim of a weird online scam.
Fake posts regarding his demise first surfaced in 2016, and reemerged in 2017. It is unknown why scammers have chosen the beloved British actor as the subject of their vicious viruses.
Thankfully, Rowan is alive and well.
In fact, he’s starring in another reboot of Johnny English later this year.
Check out the trailer here:
This time round Atkinson is joined by Bond girl Olga Kurylenko – who played Camille in Quantum of Solace – as well as Ben Miller who’s once again returning as Angus Bough, English’s partner in the field.
John Malkovich will be reprising his role as Pascal Sauvage from the first film, while Gillian Anderson is back as Pamela Thornton.
As you can see, Rowan is still doing pretty well for himself, despite the weird online scam!
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]
Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.