Joanne the Scammer Was Behind That Mysterious Drake and Rihanna Countdown Hoax

By
Photo: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images

This afternoon, the auspicious URL drakeandrihanna.com briefly set social media alight with the tantalizing possibility of a collaboration — or wedding (???) — to be revealed at the end of a slowly moving countdown. Sadly, the dream was extinguished when Drake and Rihanna’s reps denied any involvement. So we set to work trying to figure out who was behind it.

As anyone who visits the site now will see, the people behind it were internet legend Joanne the Scammer and comedy website Super Deluxe, who replaced the mysterious countdown with a video of Joanne shortly after Select All emailed for comment. For the sake of helping future Aubrih detectives, though, let’s walk through our detective work.

Start by considering the WHOIS records. Every domain registered creates a WHOIS record with the internet authority ICANN. The record for drakeandrihanna.com indicates that it was registered earlier today. Even in the age of the surprise album drop, setting up an entire site — even one as basic the countdown site — would be a stretch. Musicians plan these releases more than a day in advance.

On top of that, let’s compare that WHOIS record to Drake and Rihanna’s official website records. The information, such as the name and address of the owners are protected, so it’s not much use. But both Rihanna and Drake’s sites use anonymizing services located in the United States. The fake site does not. That should engender some skepticism.

In addition, Drake’s site and his OVO domain use GoDaddy as a registrar. If Drake was the person who set up the site, it’s not insane to believe that he would probably have used GoDaddy again. Instead, drakeandrihanna.com was registered through 1API, “one of Europe’s leading domain name registrars.” The domain rihannaanddrake.com was also registered through them today within minutes of drakeandrihanna.com.

There are other markers of sloppiness. Take the Javascript on the page:

The countdown is supposed to end on September 8 at 9 p.m. This would make sense on the West Coast, where Drake and Rihanna are, because that’s midnight, September 9, on the East Coast. But accessing the site on the East Coast shows that the countdown will still end at 9 p.m. on September 8. That’s because Javascript uses whatever your computer’s clock is set to, meaning the countdown would end at 9 p.m. regardless of time zone. Sloppy again, but not a smoking gun.

And then we get to Google Analytics.

Why on earth would a prank site need Google Analytics? It’s because someone wants to track the traffic to the site. That’s a telltale sign that the site was created by a company, possibly a marketing firm. Certainly by someone with a likely commercial interest. Curious!

The second-to-last line in that code includes something called a GaID, an identification number for the Google Analytics account holder. It’s “UA–66332030–30.” Here’s how it works, according to Google.

The first set of numbers [66332030] refers to your account number, and the second set [-30] refers to the specific property number associated with the account.

In other words, if one Google account holder wanted to monitor traffic on multiple domains that they own, the string “UA–66332030” would appear across different sites.

So I Googled it.

The first two results were for the website of Super Deluxe, a comedy site that employs people like Vine auteur Vic Berger. They do a ton of social-media stunts, like when they created Yeezus2020.com (which also has the GaID).

Sharing a GaID is a smoking gun. The only reason that completely discrete sites would share an ID is if a third-party had been sloppy in setting it up. A competent web admin would make sure that they establish an Analytics account that only their employer or client could access. Two different entities sharing one Google Analytics account would be a huge oversight, especially for Super Deluxe, which is owned by a major broadcaster, Turner.

In addition, according to WHOIS records, superdeluxe.com and drakeandrihanna.com were both registered through 1API, the overseas domain registrar mentioned before.

It was enough of a smoking gun to contact Super Deluxe — though as soon as we emailed, the true auteur behind the site was revealed: Joanne the Scammer (birth name Branden Miller), who recorded a video announcing, well … we’ll let her explain:

“I made this goddamn account. Because I am very pissed off. Drake? You acted like you were not at the VMAs. Only to surprise everyone, come out, and give Rihanna an award. Did you know I was there? Did you know I was there? Because I was. In my Kris Jenner wig. And you missed it. I’ve waited so long to take a selfie with you. And you weren’t there to take it. But you come out for Rihanna? I’m prettier, and more iconic, TBH. So fuck you, and our relationship is over, all right? Don’t email me again. Because I won’t respond. This website is a hoax, and now I can move on with my goddamn life.”