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.
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 email@example.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 located in India
A short Google search reveals that the only reference to the World Data Centre in Rajasthan is in ResearchGate where various researchers discuss this scam…
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.
Signs of a scam
The email clearly has all warning signs for a scam:
1) the organization has a website without the name of the organization in the domain name
2) no proper contact information (street address, telephone numbers) of the organization is present on their website
3) an organization that 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 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 the email is clearly a scam, the long list of winners on the site suggests a lot of people have been duped already by this predatory award organization. If everyone makes their colleagues aware of this type of scam it may be harder for this organization to make new victims. You can tell them directly, or share (or ´like´ on Linkedin) this blog so others can read it as well.