I have written in the past about predatory journals and predatory meetings that we all need to watch out for. I receive emails daily aimed at prying money out of my pocket for one of these scams. Recently I received a new type of scam and thought it would be good to share with you. It’s from a predatory award organization.

The heading is: Your research article is Winner at World Championship 2019 in Pediatrics.  Wonderful, I never knew that such a championship existed!  

´World Championship 2019 organizes international meritorious competition every year for Best Thesis and Dissertation Award, Doctoral Research Award and milestone international research articles. It gives us immense pleasure to congratulate you for -´    It then refers to one of my publications from many years ago that was actually the least interesting publication of the last ten years as it was merely a letter to the editor of some insignificant journal pointing out a mistake in an article they published.  

trophy and certificate
You are a winner! … (Image via Depositphotos)
World Championship 2019

The email is sent by an predatory award organization that calls itself World Championship 2019. When you click on this name, it leads you to the site:  sites.google.com/site/worldchampionshipwinners. There, a long list of winners of the previous years is presented. Many of the winners appear to be from developing countries. At the bottom of the page, you can also apply for honorary titles, such as an honorary PhD (for a fee of course).  The email goes on to ask to send a photograph and CV to plojindexing@gmail.com and a registration fee. The fee of $500 needs to be transferred to a bank in India, and the beneficiary is the World Data Centre. This fee needs to be paid within a month otherwise the award goes to the next on the list…

Note: they also use the name: IASR: International Agency for Standards and Ratings.


This predatory award organization is only known in ResearchGate

A short Google search reveals that the only reference to the World Data Centre in Rajasthan, India is in ResearchGate where various researchers discuss this scam…

Predatory award organization

The person in charge of selecting the winner in the field of Pediatrics (I was selected from no less than 5220 nominations from 87 countries!) and signing the email is Lucieta G. Martorano from Brazil. Dr. Martorano appears to be a genuine researcher, in the field of Agrometeorology, a field that has absolutely nothing to do with Pediatrics. She is also the 2018 Winner of the World Championship in Climate Change. I have asked her via email whether she is aware of these honors (she may not be!) but did not receive a reply yet. I will keep you posted.

Other predatory award organizations

IAAM

Since I wrote the above about the World Championship another predatory award organization caught my eye. It is the International Association of Advanced Materials (IAAM) that `proposed your name for the Scientist Medal of the International Association of Advanced Materials`.  The organisation is supposed to be located in Sweden. Leonid Schneider from the website For Better Science, which is a website that exposes all types of fraude in science, wrote an interesting article here about the organizer: Ashutosh Tiwari. Tiwari apparently built an entire industry of predatory publishing and conferences…

VDGOOD

Various people sent me a message that they received a young scientist award from a similar organization, VDGOOD, that asked them to pay $360 for registration to obtain the award… The organization is located in India and, in my opinion, appears to be running a scam.

One scientist received the following mail from VDGOOD:

Respected Scientist,
V.D.GOOD proud to announce your name as an award winner, and congratulations on winning the Prestigious Scientist Award in the International Scientist Award on Engineering, Science, and Medicine which will take place 06& 07-Feb-2021 at Coimbatore, India.
Your profile has been nominated and selected for this award, and we are privilege to honor you for the great achievement of your research work, this achievement will inspire the other researchers in their field, and we are glad to recognize a scientist like you in our organization
As you are accepting this award, we request you send the Updated CV to …..

I have also received multiple emails (from 1 person) claiming VDGOOD is not a scam and that I should be very careful about what I write. Is that a threat? We will see.

RULA

The International Research Ratna Awards from the International Journal of Research Under Literal Access (RULA) appears to be another award you can obtain by signing yourself up and paying a fee. The awards you can apply for are among others: Best Researcher of the Year, Best Scientist of the Year, and Best Professor of the Year. You can however also make up your own category as there is a box where you can write other options. This is an organization in India. What you get is a nice photo op, a framed certificate and a medal.

NESIN

According to the New Science Inventions (NESIN) website their award is `open to those researchers involved in graduate education and research happenings that accentuate bearable progress` …. I have not read such a nonsense in a long time. It would be funny if they did not cheat researchers out of their money. NESIN appears to be part of ScienceFather, which is a predatory conferences organizer located in Menachipuram, India.

ABRF

The Asian Biological Research Foundation (ABRF) in Prayagraj, India gives out awards for ‘magnificent contributions’ in various biological sciences. To qualify one must: 1) be a member of the organization, 2) pay two fees (one for nominating and one for receiving the award), and 3) self-nominate as ‘applicant should ensure that he/she deserves for the award applied’. In my opinion, these three requirements indicate it is a nonsense award. The main achievement of the awardee will be filling in forms and paying fees.

ISSN Awards

International Society for Scientific Network (ISSN) Awards is the newest predatory award organization. They send out spam emails suggesting you have been selected for an award. “ISSN Awards cordially welcomes you to and receive your high society International Research Award in the fascinating ceremony on August 15 , 2021 at Lotus Hall, Hotel Femina, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India.” In addition, you can self-nominate and will receive an award after you pay your 120 USD fee.

InSc Awards

The Institute of Scholars (InSc) is another fake award organization. This one is operating from Bengalore, India. Like all the others you either receive an invitation via spam email for an InSc award, or you can self-nominate through their website, and you pay a fee to receive the award. On their website they claim to have accreditation, but the accrediation organization itself, United Ackreditering Services Limited (UASL), appears to be a fake organization operating from a shared work space in London.

Other organizations

Let me know in case you are offered an award by a similar organization so I can include them here to warn everyone about them.

Signs of a scam

The email clearly has all warning signs for a scam:

1) the topic you will receive an award for has little to do with your research field

2) no proper contact information (street address, telephone numbers) of the organization is present on their website, the website does not have the name of the organization in its domain name, and the organization uses free email accounts (yahoo, gmail, etc.)  instead of an email address that has the name of the organization in the domain name

4) the invitation email is overall poorly written

5) they send you an offer that is ´too good to be true.´

6) you have to pay for whatever they offer without it being clear what you get in return

7) they use one of your research articles to flatter you, but the article is unrelated to the topic or too outdated to be credible.

 

What can we do

While to me these emails are clearly scams, the long list of winners on the websites of these organizations suggests a lot of people have been duped already by them. If everyone makes their colleagues aware of this type of scam it may be harder for these organizations to make new victims. You can tell your colleagues directly, or share (or ´like´ on Linkedin) this blog so others can read it as well.