Would you trust these proofreading companies?

23 03 2017

I’ve written before on the subject of so-called ‘predatory’ journals – essentially unscrupulous or even downright fake open access publishing companies that will pretty much publish anything if you are willing to pay for it. I quite often get emails from these companies asking me to submit my “eminent research” in some completely random field, or even trying to recruit me as a reviewer or Associate Editor.

Recently, a new – and I suspect not unrelated – form of spam has started hitting my inbox: companies offering me their proofreading services.

As an academic editor and proofreader myself, I’m hardly ever likely to want to use someone else’s services, so I tried unsubscribing from these emails (not that I had ever subscribed in the first place, of course!). Unfortunately, this seemed to have the opposite desired effect: instead of removing me from a mailing list, I seemed to get added to it again, such that I started to get multiple emails per day from the same companies!

I also started noticing patterns. The first batch of emails I received was from a company called Cognoscenti. But then I started getting very similar emails from another company called Swift Proofreading… then Donnish… then SpringerEdit. In fact, to date, I have received spam from so-called proofreading companies going by eight different names! (Skip to the end to see the full list, plus some others I’ve discovered!)

Now, I’ve never used any of these companies, and I don’t know anyone who has, so who am I to say they are not legitimate? All I ask is that if you are considering using one of these companies, just read the following and make up your own mind as to whether you think you can trust them… (And if you decide you can’t, why not drop me an email! 😉 )

Here are a few things that definitely do not add up: 

  • All of these companies use a pretty much identical website theme.
  • Several of them have used almost exactly the same blurb on their home pages:
    • “Swift Proofreaders is one of the leading online editing and proofreading firms. Our company’s primary objective is to provide users with swift, proficient, and affordable editing and proofreading services.”
    • “Phoenix Proofreading is one of the leading online editing and proofreading firms. Our company’s primary objective is to provide users with professional, proficient, and affordable editing and proofreading services.”
    • “Donnish Proofreaders is one of the world’s leading online editing and proofreading companies. Our company’s primary objective is to provide clients with prompt, professional, and affordable editing and proofreading services.”
    • “Cognoscenti is one of the leading online editing and proofreading firms. Our company’s primary objective is to provide users with professional, proficient, and affordable editing and proofreading services.”
  • Given that these are supposedly proofreading companies that claim “error-free work”, some of them have some suspiciously bad spelling and grammar, e.g.:
    • “Manuscript must be submitted in the Ms-Word document.”
    • “Donnish Proofreaders offers moderate charges, as it also depends on the volume of your research work in question.”
    • “Savant Proofreading give your manuscript the attention they deserve.”
  • Most of these companies do not list their editors. OK, they don’t have to, but of those that do, the names all seem suspiciously generic and I have not been able to verify a single one.

Who Is it?

Oh and hey, you know what else is interesting? Despite the fact that the spam I get from these companies all indicates that they are based in the USA, UK or Canada, a quick Who Is check reveals that the domains were in fact all registered by one of two people: a Clinton Clarke, or an Erumevwa Ebenezer, both from the same town… in Nigeria.

What’s more, SpringerEdit (do you think genuine publishing giant Springer might have something to say about that name?) and Cognoscenti, which were both registered by Ebenezer, are associated with the email address, “swiftjournals@gmail.com”. Swift Proofreading, registered by Clarke, is associated with another of his websites called – you’ve guessed it – Swift Journals (and there’s that familiar looking site template again…). A Google search on the Swift Journals Gmail address reveals that Ebenezer is associated with 17 different domain names (including some I’ve already mentioned, and some that no longer exist), all with a common proofreading or publishing theme.

What about Mr Clarke? A Google search on his email address reveals that he is associated with over 100 different domains! Some of these have already been mentioned, others hint at similar proofreading or publishing services, but others include names suggesting pay day loans, courier services, and one has a domain name very similar to that of a global banking corporation, which flags up a “Dangerous” phishing warning if you try to go to the URL…

Decide for yourselves…

Here is a list of domains associated with “proofreading companies” I have found (so far!) that all fit this pattern. There may be others! All of these are associated with “publishing companies” with the same names, too. Let me know if you come across any others!

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