There is a email circulating around the medical and scientific community with titles like, “Manuscript Submission,” “Call for Papers,” or “European-Elsevier Scholarships” that are sent under email accounts from free email providers (Gmail, Hotmail, etc.). These emails are aimed at would be authors and often involve a request to send “handling fees” to cover the article submission process. Another scam is aimed at people interested in being an editor or reviewer, these “Editorial/Review Appointment” emails usually ask people to pay a fee to be a review.
Elsevier is aware of this phishing scam and have posted a web page to try to inform and warn people about it. I don’t know how long this scam has been going on but I first heard of this scam from Mark Funk who sent an email out to MEDLIB-L today (Sept. 2, 2009). Others have been posting about the phishing scam as well, a post on the blog Leaves a Mark, has an example of one emails and it is clear from the picture that they are trying to look like communication from Elsevier.
Not satisfied with pretending to be banking and financial institutions, it looks like the scammers have locked on to the scientific publishing arena where there are sometimes legitimate fees associated with publishing research articles, i.e. some open access journal publishers. Currently Elsevier is the spoofed agency, but there is nothing stopping these people from adapting and picking another STM publisher. As with all things I would use caution if anybody is asking for money. In the STM publishing world it is not unusual to pay open access author fees to publish an article, just make sure the publisher is an open access publisher and it doesn’t hurt to do extra leg work to ensure everything is on the up and up.