Fake scientific publishers
This has already happened to many academics, particularly the young and struggling ones. You get an email. A representative of a publisher with a serious-sounding name tells you that your long-forgotten PhD or even MA thesis was discovered by them and deemed worthy of publication. Would you kindly agree? Flattered, you say yes.
The company that contacted you is called, for example, VDM Verlag, VDM Publishing, LAP Lambert. These are currently the most notorious spammers, and they are all part of one group operating out of Mauritius. But they are certainly not the only names in the game.
It’s usually a small operation. A handful of people scour university databases for theses and other publications. They send out masses of personalized-sounding emails to authors. In what appears to be the most widespread version of this trick, the company does not even want a “publication fee”, as used to be the case with this kind of academic vanity operations. Instead, the firm publishes the piece. The happy author will buy at least one overpriced copy and contact the library of his or her home institution asking it to buy some more. It’s a simple trick and it often works. Ultimately, the smooth operator does not sell much, but the printing costs of those few copies are a few cents, so the markup is high.
There are many desperate academics who fall for this trick and parade the publication on their CV. Don’t be one of them. No serious academic institution will regard this as a real publication and some less kind colleagues might even laugh at you