Jacob J. Walker's Blog

Scholarly Thoughts, Research, and Journalism for Informal Peer Review

Retracted: Phishing for Academics with a Lure of Spam

with 2 comments

I am publicly retracting the following, and I am only leaving it here, to be evidence that I can make misjudgements also, and I don’t wish to try to hide this, only correct it:

See the comments here and my new postings for more details.

I received what I believe to be one of the most interesting attempts at social engineering this morning in my inbox:


My name is Rob Bennett.  My bio is here.
I’d be grateful if you would take a look at an article I have written titled
Academic Researcher Silenced by Threats to Get Him Fired From His Job After Reporting on Dangers of Buy-and-Hold Investing.
I think it’s a big deal. If it pulls you in, that would be super.
If not, I of course understand and I certainly wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors.
Take care.

Here was my reply:

I think this appears be very interesting… as spam and potentially phishing…   Can you tell me how you got my email, and have some proof you are a legitimate academic, who is really trying to further the world of knowledge, and not just have a “teaser version” of your writing.

Having almost fallen for ploys in the past, and once actually falling for a con-artist who was selling overpriced cameras at a conference, I recognize how easy it is for even those of us who should know better to have the same psychological forces within us such that social engineering might work on us also.  In this case, while there is a chance my quick heuristic view is wrong,  it seems most likely that this guy gathered a lot of emails from one of the research social networking sites, sent all of us this email through a mail merge, and is hoping we will buy his “article”.  If he really wanted peer review, it wouldn’t be a “teaser” version.  Although, if I have made a “False Positive” decision, then I am happy to reverse course, but he will have to prove me wrong for me to re-post a contrary view to my currently held one.

Post Revisions:

Written by Jacob Walker

April 8th, 2013 at 5:44 am

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses to 'Retracted: Phishing for Academics with a Lure of Spam'

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  1. Jacob:

    This is Rob, the fellow who sent you the e-mail.

    I am genuine.

    I have sent you a follow-up e-mail that I believe proves the case.

    But if you still have doubts, I am happy to respond to any further questions or concerns you have, either by e-mail or here at your blog.

    This is a crazy story. I can certainly understand why people would have a hard time accepting that all I have reported on is so. If I had seen the article I sent you on the morning of May 13, 2002 (when the saga began), I would have been highly skeptical myself.

    That said, all that I reported on in the article is true. All of the claims can be documented. This is a real story and an important story.

    I am grateful for your interest in it (your skepticism evidences an implicit acknowledgment that the story is important if true, in my assessment).

    Please take good care.


    Rob Bennett

    8 Apr 13 at 6:40 am

  2. I thank you for your reply, and I’m publicly retracting my first blog post, and posted your reply to my post. I will try to give some time to read your work at the end of the week, when I’m not so busy, and give you honest peer review. I try to be an open minded skeptic, and I clearly made a false positive mistake in being too skeptical this morning.

    Jacob Walker

    8 Apr 13 at 6:43 am

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