Nicholas Wise is a fluid dynamics researcher who moonlights as a scientific fraud buster, reports Science magazine. And last June he “was digging around on shady Facebook groups when he came across something he had never seen before.”

Wise was all too familiar with offers to sell or buy author slots and reviews on scientific papers — the signs of a busy paper mill. Exploiting the growing pressure on scientists worldwide to amass publications even if they lack resources to undertake quality research, these furtive intermediaries by some accounts pump out tens or even hundreds of thousands of articles every year. Many contain made-up data; others are plagiarized or of low quality. Regardless, authors pay to have their names on them, and the mills can make tidy profits.

But what Wise was seeing this time was new. Rather than targeting potential authors and reviewers, someone who called himself Jack Ben, of

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