This is what happens if you buy a scam dissertation
A few notes from NW: This post is not satirical or embellished. This is a real interaction. I've tried to provide just about every single piece of interaction between me and Antony, minus maybe two emails total and a missed phone call (seriously, an international phone call). Also, as many will understand if they actually read it, I am not interested in solicitations for dissertation help. The prompts are absurd for a reason. And my line of research is not related to film at all. Any emails related to dissertation services or help will be considered unsolicited spam.
July 2015: Wow, this has got a lot of views! Sadly, Antony deleted his Twitter account, relegating many of the conversations we once had to the abyss. The original version has been saved on archive.org, but sadly the embedded tweets are not archived. I've reformatted and edited this post due to the lack of media in some areas.
Early on November 29th, the amazing (and post-dissertation) @DNLee5 was sent an offer:
@dnlee5 hey, if u may need assistance writing your dissertation tweet me, and get it done in a day. thanks rt!
— GitongahAdiosAntony (@GitongahA) November 29, 2014
Of course, this is clearly a scam. There are websites and services who do in fact write dissertations, theses, term papers. I've seen sites who even write grant proposals, sell access to previously awarded grants, homework packages for courses... If you want academic content, you can get it. I have never been proposed to have my dissertation written for me -- or I suppose, one degree away from a proposal. It seems as those Dr. Lee wanted to see where this would go -- as would I -- but since she has much better things to do than indulge a scam for funsies, I asked if I could take the reins.
And so I began my journey with Antony, my dissertation spirit guide. His claims were fairly convincing (read: hilariously not convincing): he can write a dissertation in a day (but sometimes two days, or a week); he can write pretty much anything, as all of these academic buzzwords for "big important paper" indicate; and even though psychology is misspelled, he can even do English papers or science papers! He apparently has a team working with him to churn out these papers. And they are supposedly low cost.
So I said let's jump down the rabbit hole...
Chapter One: Contact
I've seen (and have had troll-worthy fun) with scammers before. They are not the brightest bunch -- even those writing Ph.D quality work from scratch. As you can see here, Antony has a fairly tough time copying and pasting my email address:
— Nick Wan (@nickwan) November 29, 2014
— Nick Wan (@nickwan) November 29, 2014
— Nick Wan (@nickwan) November 29, 2014
It may have very well ended there. Over 20 minutes of problems trying to copy and paste. But this is for science. And I love all of you. So I gave in and asked for his email.
After I initiated an email, he replied with a stock email of his own.
You can access Antony's attached writing samples here.
You may be wondering what the hell is Theatrical Biology?!? and we head to Twitter for that answer:
Dear twitter: please name me a movie you didn't like. This is for science.
— Nick Wan (@nickwan) November 29, 2014
I saw Prometheus and hadn't seen any of the other Alien movies before. I thought this would be interesting since the last time something like this occurred, my friend Ari had never seen any of the Star Wars movies and suggested we binge watch from Episode I through Episode VI. Her then-boyfriend quite literally screamed out "NOOOOOO". I felt like after I watched Prometheus and told people I haven't seen any of the Aliens, I would also create such a reaction. I didn't want to see any Alien movies after Prometheus. Alien fans (and general movie fans) would know why if they have seen Prometheus.
@nickwan butterfly effect
— Ryan Tamborski (@ryantambo) November 29, 2014
The only thing I can remember from The Butterfly Effect (spoiler alert) is when Ashton is sitting in his wheelchair with his arm blown off and has this sort of blue hue to his face. The entire time, I was thinking "why is he blue?" I also saw the director's cut instead, which includes the ending where Ashton's character kills himself. When I told people "Man, that ending was crazy" they were like "Yeah, so sad..." and I was like "I mean, realizing you have to KILL yourself is insane!" then their jaw drops and then I say "Oops? Different ending for the director's cut?" Oops.
But I liked it 🙁
@nickwan Mamma Mia. Thought I could watch anything with Meryl Streep in, but had to turn it off after 10 minutes.
— Matt Wall (@m_wall) November 29, 2014
I saw Mamma Mia with my mother when it was a play. I grew up listening to ABBA, which sort of explains a lot of things to some of my regular followers and readers. Particularly my love for explaining that Sweden's #1 export was ABBA, who made a considerable amount of money for the country during their peak. Turns out, that was a complete lie. Sorry.
When I was about 12, I was trying to relearn the piano (I was forced to play when I was very young). All I knew was where "middle C" was. I figured out the white keys were "whole letters" and the black keys were "flats/sharps". The only sheet music I had available was Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" the blockbuster single to the blockbuster movie, Titanic.
I would go to friend's homes and sit at their pianos and play this song. I soon didn't have friends. And now I don't play piano anymore.
— Helena (@Helena_LB) November 29, 2014
I never saw Avatar. But I do know it's a long movie. A long sucky movie. I also asked:
Dear twitter, please finish this sentence: If I were an amazing animal, I would be a ______ — Nick Wan (@nickwan) November 29, 2014
— Ashley Pitts (@smashleypitts) November 29, 2014
I also asked:
Dear twitter: I need a science myth you HATE. The juicier the better. — Nick Wan (@nickwan) November 29, 2014
@nickwan use 10% of our brain
— Is a Bunny (@HereBeNabila) November 29, 2014
Don't get me started on this myth. I've already pleaded my case.
This is coming off of the heels of Nobel laureate James Watson's news splash that he is auctioning off his Nobel prize for
stealing discovering the double helix. Watson believed IQ and race were linked, where "the people of Africa" had lower IQs.
A few things to note here:
- Antony charges $30 a page (the full email can be found in PDF here or at the bottom of the post)
- He prefers to watch Titanic and Avatar over Mamma Mia, Natural Born Killers, The Butterfly Effect, and Prometheus.
- Titanic + Avatar = 356 minutes of pain
- I suppose the 10% myth and the race + intelligence myth are both child's play for Antony
I end up bartering down to $15 to see an abstract first, then I would send $30 per page for the rest of the document.
Chapter 2: Dirty Work
I really was not expecting much of anything from Antony. But Antony is a big-picture guy. He asked me how many pages this would be. I said "no page limit" so he said "How about 50 pages?"
Yep. 50-page dissertation sounds about right, wouldn't you say? Give or take 200 pages. But it's in the ball park!
At the rate of $30/page, Antony is looking to squeeze me for $1500.
I believe that $15 to experience a handful of words could be both interesting and also amazingly hilarious.
However, I felt a bit guilty since this is 100% lost and basically useless money to a scam artist. So I decided to also donate $15 to this project.
Please, think about donating $15 (or any amount) to Mrs. Rhodes' 3rd - 5th grade science students!
Update: Mrs. Rhodes' class has been funded. I have listed a few more projects at the bottom of the post!
If we calculate this correctly:
- Both Titanic and Avatar would take about 6 hours to watch
- If you deducted the time to roll the credits and the first 30 minutes of each movie (come on, I know you've jumped in 30 minutes late into a movie and still figured out what was happening), we still have a little over 4 hours of movie to watch.
- Antony can turn an abstract -- which is a condensed version of my supposed 50-page dissertation -- in 3 hours.
- In effect, he some how can gain an hour of time plus the time it takes to write the abstract.
- The only logical reason he can do this: Antony is a time traveler.
Since I am working with a time traveler, I think $15 for 3 hours of work (aka $5/hr) is pretty good. I mean, I should have asked for lotto numbers.
Oh wait, I live in Utah and it doesn't have a lottery.
Oh wait, Antony is a scam artist and not a time traveler.
Flash forward three hours later (about 3am for me):
But how could I exercise patience, Antony?? HOW? You are about to write a piece on the biological correlates of male and female differences using Avatar and Titanic as your cases! HOW COULD I WAIT?
Five hours. Okay. Breathe. Try to sleep. Wake up and...
And then, there was laughter. (Click here for the *.docx)
Science does not limit the difference between the male and female species of animals in terms of the physiological disparities of their body, but rather the social responsibilities they pursue in the society. Scientific dispositions admit that other than the obviously glaring discrepancies in the sense of body physiology men and women ‘occupy’ certain traits in terms of responsibility set them apart. Social science for instance, has invariably explained the difference between men and women within the light of their social obligations and personality traits. Arts, especially the theatres, have thrived on the element of gender roles to outline the two swings of the gender pendulum. The plots of avatar and Titanic have consummately outlined the significant differentiation of gender roles in the society as a factor of demarcating between the male and the female progeny. Cameron has used Grace, Trudy, and Neytiri to express the general ‘feeling’ of the work towards gender differences. In Avatar, there is very little differentiation between the two genders in terms of roles and responsibilities. The work completely ignores the conventional feminine stereotyping but chooses to tether the understanding about the gender differences towards the aspect of ‘equality’ and affirmative action. This is in stark contrast to Titanic that clearly outlines the difference between the responsibilities of men and women. An in-depth analysis of these works reveals a practical case of juxtaposition that symbolically leaves the audience brainstorming as to the position of the woman in the society. With the analysis of these works, it is expected that the glaring personality differences will be illuminated.
I laughed for 15 minutes straight before showing it to anyone. I sort of lost it around Cameron has used Grace, Trusy, and Neytiri... and started to think No one is going to believe this. I just spent $15 on a joke.
But it was real. It happened. Not exactly to my specifications -- I was looking forward to more biological differences -- but in terms of a film analysis and societal implications, this wasn't too far off what you would expect from an undergraduate paper.
And then I thought How many people have used this in my class? and it got less funny. It is not copy-paste stuff. At least from what I could see.
And that makes sense -- there are still minor misspelling errors and grammatical faults within this abstract. This was written by someone within 12 hours of time. Someone who charges $30/page. Someone who is morally bankrupt. My dissertation spirit guide.
At this point, I decided to throw in the towel. But Antony, like many scammers, do not take "No" for an answer.
After some back and forth, we came to this conclusion:
And I didn't hear from him for an entire day. And half of me thought I was never going to hear from him again. But the other half...
At this point, I wasn't jumping for joy and laughing. I'm dealing with an academic scammer. I don't know how different this interaction is with predatory journals, but I could imagine a situation where it is just too good to be true. In this case, it was no where near good:
Click here for the *.docx for this abstract
[Emphasis is mine, everything else is Antony]
Theatrical media has been widely used in pursuit of possible answers to scientific questions. In the search of answers, it has raised more pertinent issues that are apposite to the scientific studies. By using such avenues to delve into what is widely considered mythical, there is an intrigue in fusion of totally distinct, different genres, and philosophies that answer questions that neither of the two would have (Chudler, 2006).
There is a widely held belief that the use of only 10% of the human brain is an urban legend. However, there are scientific suggestions that increase in harness of the unused brain power will lead to an increase of intelligence (Beyerstein, 1999). This is known as the reserve energy theories that are accredited to Boris Sidis and William James who were psychologists from Harvard in the 1890s. There are experiments that have been carried out to ascertain this but they have not yielded much on the possibility of the activation of the unused brain matter (Kalat, 1998).
The failure by the scientist to develop means of interrogating the limits of the brain when used without reservations, has led to researches by film makers that have captured the possibilities in theatrical media. The creators of films like Prometheus, The Butterfly Effect, and Natural Born Killers have delved into the depth of the possibilities of using the entire human brain. The films have achieved what scientific studies cannot albeit remotely reliable due to their relatively speculative scope of work. But based on such speculation, questions are raised on the unreserved ability of human beings.
Keywords: Human brain, theatrical media
In light of this, this paper seeks to Show proof that we only use 10% of our brain based on an interrogation of characters and traits from the films Prometheus, The Butterfly Effect, and Natural Born Killers.
And there you have it. Biological proof we use 10% of our brain using interrogations of characters from Prometheus, The Butterfly Effect, and Natural Born Killers. I would love to see Alien, Ashton Kutcher, and Woody Harrelson just hanging out in character in a room with a single light bulb dangling over a table while Antony is trying to prove they are only using 10% of their brain. I would absolutely love that.
And for the last time. I pass on Antony's services.
Chapter Three: Catch Me If You Can
There are a lot of red flags with Antony's initial claims. First off, Antony Gitonga (or Antony Gitongah, if you use his Twitter spelling) doesn't exist. In fact, his "real" name came up on PayPal when I paid
Antony Ndungu, or Antony Ndung'u, is a relatively common name. A quick search found me 4 different Antony/Anthony/Tony Ndung'u/Ndungu profiles across various social media. Including a search term for "Nairobi University" (which actually doesn't exist) came up with some Anthony Ndungu's from Nairobi, but none who attended University of Nairobi's masters program -- much less, none who attended Nairobi University's masters program (because it doesn't exist).
Searching Antony's email address was a bit more fruitful. His Facebook profile contains groups he has joined -- most related to dissertations and dissertation help. He supposedly is hiring writers with a fixed pay of $300. And also does the majority of his recruiting and preying on Twitter (update: Antony has deleted his Twitter, but may possibly be under a different name).
A 250-page dissertation would cost $7500 from Antony. The title "Your Name, Ph.D" could be worth $7500 to some. That's what it's worth to Antony.
But the bulk of Antony's clients are most likely not sociopathic title-hunters. Most likely, he is providing services to undergraduates who are trapped in writing-heavy courses who wish to opt out of all work within the course. If the cost is $500 to have all A's in a course, that's a sliver of a student loan payout.
Chapter Four: Pay It Forward
Rather than continuing to shun the morally bankrupt, I would rather focus on influencing the next generation of scientists. Please join me in focusing your efforts towards Mrs. Rhodes' 3rd - 5th grade science students. Science has taught me the benefits in the long term are set up by a lot of initial hard work -- which essentially would save many from having to fall for people like Antony.
UPDATE: Mrs. Rhodes' class has been funded! Here are a few more pages. Please think of donating $15 to any of these projects.
If you found this post funny, interesting, and/or intriguing, I hope you would also believe this was worth $15 for me to investigate and for you to read about. We can't stop all Antony's by tomorrow, but we can certainly slow them down.
The entire email interaction with Antony. (The last email with the abstract was sent in a different thread -- the screenshot with the abstracts attached were the last emails).