Social Engineering for the Overeducated

I got an interesting email today.  Ostensibly from Prof. Jochem Koos (a good Dutch name) from Elsevier, the email gives editorial and review policies for its journals.  After stating that referees must be of the highest quality, the letter then asks potential editors and reviewers to fill out a form to certify their credentials and be added to their list.   The bad part is that it costs $100 to be added to the list.  The good part is that referees are to be paid $30 per page reviewed.  $30!  I just finished a 50 page monster for an Elsevier journal.  I could get $1500?!  Wow!  Does that go for revisions too?  I could get that paper in an endless series of revisions at $1500 per round.  “There is a comma misplaced on page 26.  I will need to see a revision before I recommend publication.”    Ka-ching!  And if I am running a bit short on cash a few reviews of the form “Interesting paper but I would like to see it … 13 pages longer” should be just the thing for making the mortgage payment.

Of course, it is all a ruse.  Elsevier does not pay $30/page for refereeing (at least, not in operations research) and you don’t have to pay $100 to get on an approved list to referee.

It is surprising that a group that overwhelmingly has PhDs can be a target for such a scam.  On the other hand, considering some of the people I have met in my professional life, perhaps it is not that surprising.

Bottom line:  don’t send off $100 to just anyone with a gmail address.  Elsevier has some more information on these sorts of emails.

4 thoughts on “Social Engineering for the Overeducated”

  1. Does Elsevier publish any org behavior journals? I could retire off the proceeds from reviewing one or two of those papers — they’re always incredibly long, and they always need at least three revisions!

  2. I guess a good question might be, how are they getting your email to begin with? That is a pretty valuable email list if everyone is PhD+ within.

  3. Just stumbled across your article and found it funny. So PHD’s can get Phishing attempts to huh? Wow 🙂

    Let me tell you I’ve been in the technology game over 15 years now and they (phishers, email list aggregators, spamers etc) can get your email addy from almost anywhere online public databases, social network sites, or (if on your local network) they can just sniff it out with a packet analyzer.

    It sounds a lot more scary than it is. If you pay attention to your emails who their from, the reply to addresses etc you should be in good shape. That plus a good AV program and spam filter should keep free of those pesky devils. Just remember though: the most important security feature of any computer is it’s user 🙂

  4. I replied and got the following “fasinating” response.

    This is the first kind of academics related spam email I ever received.

    Thank you for your mail. We are glad to inform you that after going through the form attached, we decided to give you the opportunity of serving as a member of our editorial board.we hope that our choice will be of benefit towards the growth and development of Elsevier journals.
    Note that the name of the journal which you are selected as a member of the editorial board is indicated in the appointment letter.The appointment letter will be sent to you as soon as we confirm your payment.
    You are to send the $100 through western union money transfer. Please note that we use only western union for now due to rumours of hackers going through accounts so we are activating our accounts for now.Please bear with us.

    Payments details.

    Name:Geila Hildewif

    Address:197 Kensington,Liverpool

    Please provide us with the following after sending the funds

    Senders Name :
    Address and Telephone:
    M.T.C.N :
    Be informed that appointment letter will be sent to you in 24 hours after our confirmation of your payment

    Thank you.

    Best regards
    Editor in chief

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