[Taxacom] Nepal "visiting researcher" scam revisited
nadia.talent at utoronto.ca
Fri Jul 12 15:51:18 CDT 2013
A colleague, who has fielded a number of similar cases addressed to a professional society rather than to a research institution, suggests that where it is a possible that the contact might indeed be genuine, a good test is to conduct a video Skype interview with the applicant, including a video tour of the applicant's institution.
Research Associate, Royal Ontario Museum,
Green Plant Herbarium (TRT),
Department of Natural History,
100 Queen's Park,
Toronto, M5S 2C6, Canada
On 2013-07-12, at 12:58 , Doug Yanega <dyanega at ucr.edu> wrote:
> Apologies for x-posting, but this is important. If you are affiliated
> with a research institution, please take the time to read through
> everything; this has affected people in the EU, Canada, and US in the
> past, and may be more extensive.
> We just received the following "request", which should look familiar to
> several of you (Andy Bentley and Heather Thorwald, especially), and new
> to others:
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: university visit
> Date: Fri, 12 Jul 2013 07:44:57 -0700
> From: Dr. Ram Kailash P. Yadav <dr.ram12 at yahoo.com>
> Reply-To: Dr. Ram Kailash P. Yadav <dr.ram12 at yahoo.com>
> To: douglas.yanega at ucr.edu <douglas.yanega at ucr.edu>
> It's my great opportunity to introduce you my self . I am Associate
> Professor Dr. Ram Kailash P. Yadav Tribhuvan University central
> Department of Botany and part time i involved my self as a Researcher
> inResearch and Conservation of Nature Nepal (RECON) and . It was
> originally established with the objectivesof natural resource
> management, conservation, applied research on the biodiversity, ecology
> of both flora, fauna , Cultural,Private Viewing for Cultural or Academic
> Research and the development of human resources through in-country
> training , in wildlife techniques, community participation techniques,
> community forestry, conservation education .The RECON, established by
> late "Oohi"Govinda Bahadur Gurung, the pioneer taxidermist and
> naturalist in Nepal, is dedicated to the research of floral, faunal,
> archaeological, geological and natural resources within county since
> 2001 AD. With the aim of conservation of different zoological, botanical
> species as well as natural resources, we are running our organization.
> RECON is providing Vocational training on Taxidermy and wildlife art in
> close collaboration in Kathmandu, Nepal. The training is three to six
> months long based on the curriculum and its intensity. Here is brilliant
> and expert teacher in this museum. After taking this training, the
> museum will send to test of International level of training in foreign
> area.Therefore, I would like to visit your university,university Museum
> and respective collection departments with my colleagues in near future
> as a part of scholarly visit to receive and share research knowledge and
> scientific activities with your experts.Hence, I hereby, humbly request
> you to arrange a time schedule for our scholarly visit to your renowned
> institution on July 2013.
> /Associate Prof.Dr.Ram Kailash P.Yadav /
> /Central Department of Botany/
> /Tribhuvan University/
> /Post Box: 26429/
> /E-mail:-dr.ram12 at yahoo.com <mailto:E-mail%3A-dr.ram12 at yahoo.com>/
> /Website:http://www.cdbtu.edu.np <http://www.cdbtu.edu.np/>/
> /www.recon.org.np <http://www.recon.org.np/>/
> Here's the thing about this:
> There are two very different scams out of India/Nepal targeting US
> museums; the "please send specimens (so we can sell them)" scam and the
> "please send a formal invitation (so we can issue a fraudulent visa)"
> scam. The former seems to be fairly limited in terms of targeting places
> that might actually have preserved vertebrates. The latter targets any
> and all museums, including ours. Over the years, we've gotten at least 3
> requests directly, phrased very much like the one below, which I got
> last year:
> Date: Mon, 7 May 2012 11:52:48 -0700
> Subject: visit of ento museum
> From: Ishwarbhai Patel <dr.ispatel at gmail.com>
> To: <douglas.yanega at ucr.edu>
> I have came to know to that you have prestigious entomological museum.
> Now a days I am in California and intend to see your museum as I am
> basically Agricultural entomologist working on various
> aspctes of Integrated Pest Management at Research institute in Gujarat
> state, INDIA.You are requested to give permission to see the museum.
> with kind regards
> Dr. I. S. Patel
> Research Scientist (Ento.) & PI (/Helicoverpa/)
> AICRP on Pigeonpea
> Centre of Excellence for Research on Pulses
> S. D. Agricultural University
> Sardarkrushinagar-385506, Dist. B.K.,
> Gujarat (INDIA)
> 09898208274 (Mob)
> The interesting thing is that, according to their website, there is no
> I.S. Patel on the staff of the Centre of Excellence for Research on
> Pulses in Sardarkrushinagar - and a message to the director there asking
> about him was ignored. This is the same pattern as in previous requests
> we have received; they always ask for a letter of invitation or
> permission, the message originates from a suspiciously non-official
> email address (hotmail, gmail or yahoo), and no such person appears to
> be employed at whatever institution they claim to be from (if such an
> institution exists). Sometimes, the person exists, but the e-mail is
> fraudulent. In this present case, I sent a message to the REAL Dr. Ram's
> institutional address for confirmation that the message was sent by him.
> I do not expect confirmation.
> This was a major topic in the museum community back in 2009 with a spate
> of messages sent to many collections, nearly all with requests from
> Nepal. Here are three of the relevant sets of messages, with numbers to
> group them by threads (anonymized):
> Dear Dr.XXX
> thank you very very much for your kindly email.
> I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that Zoological
> &Botanical Garden of Kathmandu, Nepal. It is one of the major
> Biodiverdiversity research institutions in Nepal. The mail objectives of
> the institution are.
> To conduct Taxonomic, zoogeographic and phylogentetic studies, a wide
> range research for the exploration of flora and fauna and biological
> diversity of the earth. To establish a biological collection institution
> and maintain it under optimal living conditions, in an effort to preserve
> rare animals and plants threatened with extinction.
> Fulfills objectives of sustainable development, to ensure clean and healthy
> natural environment not only for present generation but also future
> generation to come.
> To conserve Nepal's natural resources and serve as a research and
> educational facility in Nepal for scientists, students, and other
> interested scholar
> The main focus of the collections of zoology is to conduct research on
> the taxonomy about plant .so to study their facilities, new practices on
> taxidermy and scientific collections as well as Plant.
> Dr.Rajkumar Chauhan ( Director)
> Zoological and Botanical Garden Kathmandu, Nepal
>> Dear Raja,
>> Thank you for sending me the details. I still need your postal address
>> put on my invitation letter. You haven't even given me the name of your
>>> Dear prof.Dr.XXX
>>> Our Board Meeting decided that 3 staffs will visit XXX
>>> Department of Entomology along with me in September 7-18 2009 for the
>>> purpose of scientific research activities about taxonomy about Insect
> i am
>>> agree about our visit.All our total cost will be covered by our
>>> Please let me know may i send you details for preparation invitation
>>> letter? or do you need format of welcome letter?
>>> Hoping you positive responces from you by email.
> which was followed up by:
> Dear XXX,
> We contacted the phone number provided in the purported website of the
> Zoological and Botanical Garden of the Kathmandu. However, the number
> turned out to be for a grocery shop. The man who answered the phone
> said this office was in the same house awhile back and he recounted they
> had a very small operation. The man thought this office no longer
> existed. As the credibility of the institution appears questionable, we
> do not recommend you send your invitation letter unless Dr. Chauhan
> sends you sufficient information about him and his organization to
> establish that it a genuine organization.
> Consular Section
> U.S. Embassy
> Kathmandu, Nepal
> Phone: 977-1-400-7200
> Fax: 977-1-400-7281
> Date: Mon, 20 Jul 2009 13:02:37 -0600
> Thread-Topic: inquiry from Nepal
> Thread-Index: AcoJbKXza1uYUpb6TvSogj1UeGLCGg==
> From: <xxx>
> To: <NHCOLL-L at lists.yale.edu>
> Reply-To: xxx
> Sender: owner-nhcoll-l at lists.yale.edu
> If anyone has been contacted by Govinda Bhandari, director of Research
> and Conservation of Nature Nepal (RECON), regarding an invitation to
> visit to your institution, I d appreciate it if you would contact me
> Subject: RE: [NHCOLL-L:4398] Re: inquiry from Nepal
> Date: Mon, 27 Jul 2009 11:06:12 +0100
> Thread-Topic: [NHCOLL-L:4398] Re: inquiry from Nepal
> Thread-Index: AcoJe2CVjmQnCnYlRUqAmsuXGqVNAQFJeNmA
> From: XXX
> To: <dyanega at ucr.edu>
> Similar Nepalese requests but none from this particular name.
> I assume all are scams. Once they get visa support from us they would be
> free to enter the EU and could travel anywhere in Europe without
> restriction. A small number may be genuine but we have a policy of not
> supporting any visa application unless we initiate the process rather
> than being solicited by strangers.
> One Nepalese taxidermy museum was very persistent and applied to various
> email addresses through our museum website after I had clearly explained
> our policy.
> I have also noticed that every time we organise a conference there is a
> spate of non-national applications, always looking for an 'invitation'
> as opposed to simply applying themselves.
> From: owner-nhcoll-l at lists.yale.edu
> [mailto:owner-nhcoll-l at lists.yale.edu] On Behalf Of Doug Yanega
> Sent: 20 July 2009 21:32
> To: NHCOLL-L at lists.yale.edu
> Subject: [NHCOLL-L:4398] Re: inquiry from Nepal
>> If anyone has been contacted by Govinda Bhandari, director of Research
>> and Conservation of Nature Nepal (RECON), regarding an invitation to
>> visit to your institution, I'd appreciate it if you would contact me
> There's a rash of things like this going around, and a few are from
> legitimate researchers, even if many are not. This is worth discussing
> For one example I encountered recently, Narender Sharma of the
> Zoological Survey of India appears to be entirely legitimate.
> On the other hand, Rajkumar Chauhan of the "Zoological & Botanical
> Garden of Kathmandu, Nepal" is a fake, and it has been suggested that
> this is an outfit trying to get people illegally into the US (they use
> the letter of invitation to get a Visa, and then sell that to a third
> Other vaguely-similar cases in the past reported here on NHCOLL appear
> to be fronts for biological supply companies, but this is a different
> sort of scam; and it's based on the real-life practices of institutions
> in and around India, soliciting letters of invitation to work abroad.
> One cannot safely assume either that they are all real, OR that they are
> all fakes. You need to investigate carefully on a case-by-case basis.
> There is no reason to offend legitimate researchers in the process of
> weeding out the frauds.
> To wit: Govinda Bhandari is the name of a PhD student at Kathmandu
> University in 2008. I find no records, however, relating to any entity
> known as "Nature Nepal". Unless it is a brand-spanking new NGO, this one
> is suspicious. It's not impossible for a PhD student to occupy a
> directorship right after graduation, but it's also not impossible for
> someone to just grab your name off the web and use it as a
> legitimate-sounding but hard-to-trace pseudonym.
> Along this same line I received a request a few years back from an
> ichthyologist from an African country wanting to visit the Canadian
> Museum of Nature in Ottawa. He wanted to come and study curatorial
> techniques (all costs would be covered by a grant he had received) and
> so I prepared a letter of invitation. All went as planned until the day
> before his scheduled arrival. At that time I received an email from a
> hotmail address claiming to be the visitors sister and telling me that
> the visitor had been in a car accident and would not be coming the next
> day so I was NOT to bother going to the airport to meet them. In
> retrospect I feel quite sure this was simply a scam to get illegal entry
> into Canada (and perhaps from there to the USA). I also realized that
> the original requests all came from a hotmail address as well and at the
> time I simply did not question it. Given the circumstances in the world
> today we need to be diligent and follow up to be sure these are real
> scientifically based requests.
> There was another related message, which I can't find in my archives,
> which gave an important detail regarding how the "letter of invitation"
> was, at least in India and Nepal, an essential item required in order to
> obtain a J-1 visa.
> I suspect that there are more of these requests being received than
> people are admitting to: the above are just a few selected responses,
> but my impression was that lots of people had encountered this, and in
> the intervening years since the topic died down, it is likely that this
> has been ongoing but no one is talking about it. It's obviously time to
> talk about this again, and if anyone else has gotten requests like this
> recently, PLEASE share this information. The only way this scam will
> ever be completely shut down is if absolutely everyone knows that it is
> I realize it is possible that Dr. Ram Kailash P. Jadav sent this
> message, and I have sent a message to him to confirm it, but I consider
> it HIGHLY UNLIKELY, especially given that his institutional e-mail is
> not via yahoo (see http://cdbtu.edu.np/faculty/dr-ram-kailash-p-yadav).
> Note that one of the known frauds above also involved a person claiming
> to be associated with RECON. That alone raises a red flag here. No one
> should respond to this or similar solicitations until and unless you can
> obtain independent confirmation that the request is genuine. You should
> also file away the above information for future reference in case you
> are contacted with similar requests.
> Doug Yanega Dept. of Entomology Entomology Research Museum
> Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314 skype: dyanega
> phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
> "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
> is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82
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