Increasingly we are hearing about authors that have been tricked into paying an article processing charge (APC) or a submission or publication fee because they have received fake acceptance letters and emails purporting to be from reputable journals or publishers.
Typically, this fraud has been detected when an author contacts a publisher to ask for an update on their accepted manuscript. The publisher finds no record of the author, or their paper because the acceptance letter was a fake. The author may receive a letter on forged letterhead of the journal or publisher, telling them their manuscript has been accepted, confirming a publication date, and asking for payment. It has been reported that some of these fake acceptance letters look convincing and include logos for DOAJ, Crossref, and other organisations, and an editor’s faked signature.
This happens because the author submitted their paper not directly to the journal, but to an agent, which claims to offer author services, and who has promised to manage the submission of their article to a suitable journal.
The publishers who have become aware of this fraud, report that it is primarily affecting authors from the United Arab Emirates, Middle East, and Southeast Asian countries.
We advise authors never to submit through an agent or any company offering author services they cannot verify the legitimacy of, or are not familiar with. Always submit directly to a journal.
Authors should be aware that legitimate third party companies that provide Publication Consultancy services will 1) never guarantee acceptance at any of the suggested journals; 2) may provide suggestions on how to improve the manuscript but will not cross the line of providing intellectual input to the extent that it falls within the realm of authorship, and 3) will not decide which journal the authors should submit to.
It can be a daunting task for authors to select the right journal, so we recommend that authors use our Think. Check. Submit checklist for journals. The checklist is available in over forty languages. This tool will help them discover what they need to know when assessing whether or not a publisher is suitable for their research.
You can read more about the issue of Fake Acceptance Letters in an article by Angela Cochrane published by the Scholarly Kitchen: https://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2018/04/18/paper-acceptedunless-letter-forged/