About Those Manipulative Spam Emails from Internal Medicine Review

Internal Medicine Review

Complete rubbish.

You have probably received a clever, personalized, and manipulative spam email from a journal called Internal Medicine Review. The email includes a purported email exchange between two people at the journal, with one asking the other to invite you to submit follow-up article to your earlier article. Here’s the backstory.

Internal Medicine Review is a completely fake medical journal that falsely claims to be based in Washington, D.C. This journal alone accounts for a good percentage of the predatory spam emails sent out in 2016. I personally have been hit by their spam several times.

The spam panders to and attempts to manipulate the recipient by feigning a conversation between two imaginary journal executives, one asking the other to contact the recipient and ask him or her to submit a paper to the journal. Here’s the text of the spam email I received recently:

Dear Dr. Beall,

My last email must have reached you at a bad time so I am following up. If you are not the right person to talk to about this please let me know or feel free to forward this email.

Sincerely,

Lisseth

From: Dr. Lisseth Tovar, M.D. [mailto:lisseth.tovar@internalmedicinereview.org]
Sent: Monday, July 11, 2016 7:33 AM
To: Dr. Beall
Subject: manuscript submission from Dr. Beall

Dear Dr. Beall,

I hope this email finds you well. My colleague Milena asked if I could get in touch with you about a paper you authored titled “Predatory publishers are corrupting open access.” Firstly thank you for taking the time to publish this, it was an interesting read. I am hoping to have the opportunity to discuss having a short followup or perhaps a review article published in one of the next issues of the Internal Medicine Review. I think our readers could be interested in a paper with information from any continued research or new data since this was published. It would not have to be a long article, but if you don’t have time for this perhaps you could also reach out to the co-authors or one of your students to collaborate.

If you have moved on from this line of research I am certainly interested in knowing more about your current projects; perhaps there is the potential for an article that would fit our journal. If you have any questions about whether or not a certain subject fits our scope I can put you in contact with Dr. Chadwick Prodromos from our editorial board.

Could you please let me know your thoughts on this?

Sincerely,

Dr. Lisseth Tovar, M. D.
Senior Editor
Internal Medicine Review
http://www.internalmedicinereview.org

From: Mihaleva, Milena [mailto:milena.mihaleva@internalmedicinereview.org]
Sent: Saturday, July 9, 2016 6:54 PM
To: Dr. Lisseth Tovar
Subject: manuscript submission from Dr. Beall

Lisseth,

Would you contact the authors of “Predatory publishers are corrupting open access” about possibly preparing something for the next issue? Or possibly September? Let me know if you can’t find the article and I will send it.

Thank you,

Milena

Tens of thousands of researchers have received similar, personalized spam emails. They are sent wantonly to people in all fields of study, not just internal medicine.

The journal is not open-access; when you navigate to open an article, a link appears that says “Subscribers only.” Following the link brings the user to an empty page.

In fact, there are no subscribers — the entire operation is a scam. I think Internal Medicine Review is connected to the predatory publisher called KEI Journals. KEI claims it’s based in California, but they use a mail forwarding service there.

KEI Journals

More complete rubbish.

My understanding is that both Internal Medicine Review and KEI journals are the efforts of Dylan Fazel, of Anoka, Minnesota. He’s been a scholarly publisher since he was in high school, and he’s made a lot of money. His telephone number is (612) 524-5566. When you call it, a recording plays, then the call is transferred to an overseas number.

Pay a princely sum to hide your research.

Pay a princely sum to hide your research.

By the way, if you publish in Internal Medicine Review — a closed-access, subscription journal with no subscribers — you must pay $1250-3000.

Appendix: List of KEI Journals’ titles as of 2016-07-28:

  1. Biomedical Engineering Review
  2. International Biology Review
  3. International Chemistry Review
  4. Journal of Economics and Banking
  5. Medical Research Archives
  6. Quarterly Physics Review

47 Responses to About Those Manipulative Spam Emails from Internal Medicine Review

  1. Lalitha Pasam says:

    Thank you jeff

  2. Dr. Abide taofeek olanrewaju says:

    Dear Dr. J. Be all,
    Thank you for your selfless investigative activity on academic criminals.
    Could you oblige me in finding out if world journal of medicine and medical research is predatory? Though, it seems not to be on your list.
    Regards
    T.O.Ayinde

  3. herr doktor bimler says:

    Is it really a year since you last covered the KEI scams?
    https://scholarlyoa.com/2015/04/07/questionable-subscription-publisher-acts-like-a-predatory-oa-one/
    How time flies.

    when you navigate to open an article, a link appears that says “Subscribers only.” Following the link brings the user to an empty page.
    Luxury! Some of the articles do not even have the “subscribers only” link, just the bare abstract:
    http://internalmedicinereview.org/index.php/imr/article/view/127

    I have joked about predatory journals being a “write-only medium”, because neither the publishers nor most of the contributors really care whether anyone actually reads the papers, but KEI is taking it to extremes.

    My own introduction to the friendly collegiate world of the KEI editorial office came from Reni Koen and her correspondence with Dr Kateryna Bielka, at Medical Research Archives, offering to put me in contact with “Dr. Steven Lindheim from our editorial board” instead of “Dr. Chadwick Prodromos”. Otherwise the frame story followed the same template.

    It was not entirely clear to me why Medical Research Archives was taking an interest in my reflections on medieval memory palaces in contemporary culture.

  4. herr doktor bimler says:

    KEI claims it’s based in California, but they use a mail forwarding service there.

    Have you looked up his Washington address?

    712 H Street #1018, Washington DC 2002 USA

    Google Street View informs me that you can also cash cheques there, and buy liquor and takeaways at the adjacent premises.

  5. Dr Lisseth Tovar (who we don’t think is an actual existing person, by the way) recently contacted Scientific Spam DNSBL to ask to have their IP address(es) and domain name(s) removed from our list of spammers.

    We told them we’d need to observe half a year of no spam from them first.

    Doesn’t seem very likely to be happening. Would all readers of Dr Beall’s fine blog please keep reporting the spam they get from KEI Journals in the comments of this blog entry or the previous one on KEI Journals so that we can stay up to date on when the half year period could theoretically begin. (We do watch this stuff in our spamtraps too, but it’s good to have independent confirmation from third parties.)

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      FWIW, Dr Tovar has an account at LinkedIn, which mentions her editorial post at Internal Medicine Review:
      https://ua.linkedin.com/in/lissethtovarcorrea

      Kateryna Bielka (Medical Research Archives) is also present at LinkedIn, though she does not boast of her employment.
      https://ua.linkedin.com/in/kateryna-bielka-b161045a

      Both also have accounts at the freelancing website Upwork,
      https://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~010fade43b44a881c5/
      https://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~01dab19340d07f96e9/
      offering to undercut other candidates with lower bids for editorial work, which is presumably where Dylan found them.

      See also Reni Koen, the Bulgarian casino and e-mail management expert:
      https://www.upwork.com/o/profiles/users/_~016c44e9b1b134a5ea/

      That may in fact be the source of the entire KEI workforce. One of the commenters at last year’s KEI post reported receiving an attempt to recruit reviewers through Upwork, naming Dylan as the client:
      https://scholarlyoa.com/2015/04/07/questionable-subscription-publisher-acts-like-a-predatory-oa-one/#comment-386600

      At $5 per review.

      • OffHours says:

        It’s interesting that Dr. Kateryna Bielka’s Upwork user profile mentions that she has “5-years experience in writing, reviewing, and editing scientific manuscripts”. I have come across only one her article published in Ukrainian and she has co-authored at least one paper in English. (This assumption may be wrong if her articles were published in local journals which are not accessible online, but it’s natural to expect the senior editor of an international scholarly journal to be a more prolific and recognized author in their field.) As a probable explanation of this discrepancy between a 5-year experience in writing and a scant list of publications while being employed at Bogomolets National Medical University, one of the most renowned medical schools in Ukraine, is that her work might have not been credited, e.g as in the case of ghostwriting. Which may be not an unusual role for an entry-level faculty member.

        On the other hand, at the end of the day, why would an author even entertain an idea to submit their manuscript to a journal, they haven’t been a regular reader/subscriber of? Isn’t it equal to gambling one’s own reputation?.. (Thus casino expert editorial executives may be justified.)

    • Marco says:

      I received the same message (different article title, of course) on June 30th of this year.

    • Erika says:

      And received another one today:

      Dr. Offerdahl,

      We still haven’t been able to connect so I though I would go ahead and send you a free subscription to the journal so you can take a look at some of our recently published papers. It may be accessed with the below login credentials. Could you please get back to me at your earliest convenience regarding the followup or review article?

      Login page: http://internalmedicinereview.org/index.php/imr/login
      Username: IMR2
      Password: j12345

      Sincerely,

      Lisseth

    • Slarti says:

      I received this spam today, September 16, 2016. Signed by Dr. Lisseth Tovar. Mail was composed as described on this page.

  6. Grace says:

    I am not a med student, professor or researcher. I am just but an IT graduate who has worked for so many sites, non-profit organisations and NGOs as a writer, software developer, Editor, transcriptionist, VA, etc my list is endless.
    I beg to differ with this post because I have worked for KEI Journals for over 1 year now and never did I experience any hidden or peculiar activities the journal is legit and I think it is wise of them to avail some info to subscribers only.

  7. Asistant Professor Workamol Wisetsri says:

    Dear Prof.Dr.Beall
    Could you please recomment this conferrence http://www.asianrdw.org it is significant or not ????

    Best Regards,
    Dr.Worakamol Wisetsri

  8. Hello, I just got one of these today – same text, and same persons involved as herr dr biemler told us.

    There was one addition, however:

    Quote
    It would not have to be a long article, but if you don’t have time for this perhaps you could also reach out to the co-authors or one of your students to collaborate.
    If you have moved on from this line of research I am certainly interested in knowing more about your current projects;
    UNquote

    They asked for a paper on aniridiaby me, but perhaps one of my students could write it, and it does not need to be on aniridia either….

    Thank you again, Jeffrey, you are always the first where I look these up – I admit I was fooled for about 2mins ….

    • herr doktor bimler says:

      if you don’t have time for this perhaps you could also reach out to the co-authors or one of your students to collaborate.

      “Please spam other people on our behalf”.
      Perhaps this would work better if they wrote “You must forward this e-mail to three other people or Bad Luck will follow. Don’t break the chain!”

      • Annika Tborsell says:

        I got a similar e-mail as to Barbara’s above just now. Including the reach-out suggestion. So not happening. How can we in the serious) scientific community make this stop?

  9. Jakperik Dioggban says:

    Dear Dr. J. Beall,
    I am most grateful for the selfless services you render
    to enhance academic quality.
    May you kindly assist me verify the status of “International Journal of Agriculture and Environmental Research (IJAER)’?
    Kind regards.

  10. […] About Those Manipulative Spam Emails from Internal Medicine Review (quinta-feira, 4/ago) Jeffrey Beall […]

  11. Mary Kuhner says:

    I received a volley of these about 1 month ago. I remember Lisseth’s name in particular, though I did not keep the emails so have no other details. I wrote back asking to be removed from their mailing list and got another round of the fake correspondence templates.

    I don’t do any work that could remotely be considered internal medicine, and indicated as much in my first letter to them.

  12. Actipatch says:

    Wow, I got the same mail couple of days ago. Thanks for clearing it out for me.

  13. Michael Finley says:

    Just wanted to say “thanks” for running this website. I just got an email from Internal Medicine Review asking about an old (> 5yr) paper that I wrote. It appears as if it is forwarded from another colleague (neither of whom I recognized). I sent it to the SPAM folder as soon as I saw this thread on your website.

  14. herr doktor bimler says:

    Looking back in the archives, it looks as if the format of these current spam-mails is a development of a style that Dylan Fazel was using back in 2014:

    XXXX,
    I am not sure if you received my previous email. We have room for a few more manuscripts in our next issue and I would like to inquire if you or one of your students might be able to submit a short review or research article on your recent research. I have looked at some of your publications but if you could also tell me more about your current projects that would be helpful. Please let me know whether or not this is a possibility for you and if there are any questions I can answer.

    May I send you a copy of our author guidelines?

    Thank you,
    Dylan Fazel

    (or Editorial Assistant Krystyna Vinokurova was blasting the spams out under Dylan’s name). The basic message was the same, “The guilt you feel for ignoring my [non-existent] earlier request can only be assuaged by submitting an article.”

    Ms Vinokurova, of Ukraine, is another UpWork recruit.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I received one of these messages this week, verbatim except for a different journal, Medical Research Archives, and also referring me to a different purported member of the editorial board. When I contacted the named academic, he wrote back, “Thank you. How do I remove this?” …although I’m not sure what he meant. Today, Bielka wrote again, “My last email must have reached you at a bad time so I am following up. If you are not the right person to talk to about this please let me know or feel free to forward this email.”

  16. Rich Veenstra says:

    I’ve received these messages beginning on 8/12, “bad time” follow up on 8/16, and now today with login credentials to view their journal:We still haven’t been able to connect so I though I would go ahead and send you a free subscription to the journal so you can take a look at some of our recently published papers. It may be accessed with the below login credentials. Could you please get back to me at your earliest convenience regarding the followup or review article?
    The message was sent to my University e-mail, but addressed to a former graduate student in my laboratory. I’ll definitely delete these e-mails.

    • H S says:

      I got the exact same thing today. This is probably the 3rd email in this string. identical text. Now with link and login, as noted here and below. And, no, I also do not work within internal medicine. But yes, I was also fooled for about 30 sec as this spam thread has a better language text that the others I get.

      Thanks to Jeffrey Beall for doing this important work! Now, for each spam email, I go check your list(s), and I have sent the information about your list to colleagues. This is also helpful in evaluation of the publication list in people’s CV. Although, I try to keep in mind that some of the journals on the list are “borderline’, in the sense that some scientists/authors might genuinely be fooled, and publish their honest work, choosing faster open access due to need to get it published, not realizing the editorial and review process in the journal might be very questionable.

      one specific example of this is “Oncotarget”:
      https://scholarlyoa.com/2016/04/19/oncotargets-peer-review-is-highly-questionable/
      I have colleagues/papers in my field of study where publications has appeared in this journal, and getting the info about the questionable review process has alerted me, and I appreciate it!

      Please keep up the good work!

  17. I’ve received the exact same e-mail a couple of days ago. I’ve ignored it, as I do. Yesterday the relentless Dr. Lisseth Tovar, M.D.sent me this:

    “We still haven’t been able to connect so I though I would go ahead and send you a free subscription to the journal so you can take a look at some of our recently published papers. It may be accessed with the below login credentials. Could you please get back to me at your earliest convenience regarding the followup or review article?

    Login page: http://internalmedicinereview.org/index.php/imr/login
    Username: IMR2
    Password: j12345

    Sincerely,

    Lisseth ”

    Anyone want to try the login? Be my guest.

  18. Woodrow C. Monte says:

    Thanks ! I sent Tovar a link to this page.

  19. H says:

    I received the message below last week, and just now a follow up. I suspected that it was spam, but found your site via the google. Thanks for your efforts!

    “Dear Dr. Meijer,

    I hope this email finds you well. My colleague asked if I could get in touch with you about a paper you authored entitled “Effects of firing frequency on length-dependent myofascial force transmission between antagonistic and synergistic muscle groups”. Firstly, thank you for taking the time to publish this, it was an interesting read. I am hoping to discuss with you having a short follow-up article or perhaps a review article published in one of the next issues of the Internal Medicine Review. I think our readers would be interested in a paper with information from any continued research or new data since this was published. It would not have to be a long article, but if you don’t have time for this perhaps you could ask one of your co-authors or students to collaborate or contribute instead.

    If you have moved on from your previous research interests I am certainly interested in knowing more about your current projects; perhaps there is the potential for an article that would be published in our journal. If you have any questions about whether or not a certain subject fits our scope I can put you in contact with Dr. Steven Lindheim from our editorial board.

    Could you please let me know your thoughts on this?

    Sincerely,
    Dr. Kateryna Bielka, M. D.
    Senior Editor
    Medical Research Archives”

  20. Joe Boden says:

    I received the same email from “Dr. Bielka” today. My google search for information led me here. :)

  21. The nice thing about Dylan Fazel’s spam is that it is so easily avoided. Drop server.zel.li [179.43.141.109] into your local blocklist and be done with it. Or use our services to do the same ;-)

    Of course somebody with contacts at LACNIC should get them to yank the following network altogether:

    inetnum: 179.43.141.96/27
    status: reallocated
    owner: Private Layer Switzerland
    ownerid: CH-PLSW-LACNIC
    responsible: Ezequiel Pineda
    address: Ocean Business Plaza, Piso 17 Suite 1703, ,
    address: 00000 – Zurich – CH
    country: CH
    phone: +507 8365601 [32]
    owner-c: TSD2
    tech-c: TSD2
    abuse-c: TSD2
    created: 20131218
    changed: 20131218
    inetnum-up: 179.43.128/18

  22. Jon Watts says:

    And I received the very same today, but with my own name and the title of a five year old article I wrote.

    It’s curious that a quite clever scam like this fails by targeting authors in completely unsuitable fields for the “Internal Medicine Review.” Since they have gone to some trouble to appear to be making a personal invitation, I am surprised they are not a bit more selective.

    My paper was about chickens!

  23. Chemist says:

    I received the same mail message today, referencing a paper on organic chemistry. Complete rubbish.

  24. Nyna Amin says:

    I received a personalized invitation to submit a paper to Internal Medicine Review today with the same wording but citing a co-authored paper published two years ago – which is quite external to internal medicine.

  25. Natalie says:

    I received the same spam today. Thanks for posting this information!

  26. Becky Carlyle says:

    Just received the same series of three e mails from Lisseth Tovar from Internal Medicine Review. The personalised first mail, third mail ending with the journal sign in details. Haven’t tried them!

  27. murthy says:

    Thank you Jeff.
    Your service to sincere academic researchers like me is invaluable. If the name of a journal is not familiar, your list is the one that I rely on. Thank you.
    Best regards,
    Murthy

  28. Katharina says:

    I have got the same email today
    Thank you for already having included KEI Journals on your list.

    “Dear Dr. Luttenberger,
    My last email must have reached you at a bad time so I am following up. If you are not the right person to talk to about this please let me know or feel free to forward this email.
    Here a links to a couple papers on PubMed published by the Medical Research Archives, so you may get a sense of the style and formatting.
    Personalizing Medicine in Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma: The Rationale for Combination Therapies.
    Kinomic Alterations in Atypical Meningioma.

    Sincerely,
    Dr. Kateryna Bielka

    From: Dr. Kateryna Bielka, M.D.
    Date: 2016-09-16 13:28:26.346
    To: “Dr. Luttenberger”
    Subject: Followup to Dr. Luttenberger’s article?
    Dear Dr. Luttenberger,
    I hope this email finds you well. My colleague asked if I could get in touch with you about a paper you authored entitled “From board to bedside – training the communication competences of medical students with role plays”. Firstly, thank you for taking the time to publish this, it was an interesting read. I am hoping to discuss with you having a short follow-up article or perhaps a review article published in one of the next issues of the Medical Research Archives. I think our readers would be interested in a paper with information from any continued research or new data since this was published. It would not have to be a long article, but if you don’t have time for this perhaps you could ask one of your co-authors or students to collaborate or contribute instead.
    If you have moved on from your previous research interests I am certainly interested in knowing more about your current projects; perhaps there is the potential for an article that would be published in our journal. If you have any questions about whether or not a certain subject fits our scope I can put you in contact with Dr. Steven Lindheim from our editorial board.
    Could you please let me know your thoughts on this?

    Sincerely,
    Dr. Kateryna Bielka, M. D.
    Senior Editor
    Medical Research Archives
    http://www.journals.ke-i.org/mra

  29. Catherine Wiseman-Hakes says:

    Thank-you for this alert! I have also received 2 emails wit the exact wording. I a very appreciative of your investigative wok and for sharing this information! Catherine Wiseman-Hakes University of Toronto

  30. EJ says:

    Does anyone actually fall for these article solicitations anymore? Lisseth Tovar’s bio on the IMR website says she works at ‘this hospital’, despite the fact that the website is for a journal. It’s not even a good attempt at fraud. Anyway, thought I’d stop by to mention that I got hit with some IMR spam on 9/20. I don’t recall getting the first email, but there is a chance it got caught in my spam folder. Needless to say, I will be blocking all emails coming from @internalmedicinereview.org addresses from here on!

    Dear Dr. ,

    My last email must have reached you at a bad time so I am following up. If you are not the right person to talk to about this please let me know or feel free to forward this email.

    I am also pasting links to a couple of our recently published articles so you may have a sense of the style and formatting.

    Current Technological State of Radiation Therapy for the Treatment of Lung Cancer

    Longitudinal Follow-up Study of Bone Mineral Density in Adult Survivors of Solid Pediatric Cancers

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Lisseth Tovar

    From: Dr. Lisseth Tovar, M.D.
    Date: 2016-09-16 12:56:04.352
    To: “Dr. ”
    Subject: Followup to Dr. ‘s article?

    Dear Dr. ,

    I hope this email finds you well. My colleague asked if I could get in touch with you about a paper you authored entitled “We are prepared to spam you relentlessly”. Firstly, thank you for taking the time to publish this, it was an interesting read. I am hoping to discuss with you having a short follow-up article or perhaps a review article published in one of the next issues of the Internal Medicine Review. I think our readers would be interested in a paper with information from any continued research or new data since this was published. It would not have to be a long article, but if you don’t have time for this perhaps you could ask one of your co-authors or students to collaborate or contribute instead.

    If you have moved on from your previous research interests I am certainly interested in knowing more about your current projects; perhaps there is the potential for an article that would be published in our journal. If you have any questions about whether or not a certain subject fits our scope I can put you in contact with Dr. Chadwick Prodromos from our editorial board.

    Could you please let me know your thoughts on this?

    Sincerely,

    Dr. Lisseth Tovar, M. D.

    Senior Editor

    Internal Medicine Review

    http://www.internalmedicinereview.org

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