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“Got to scam to get me through every day”

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The shortest period of time is the time between the beginning of a disaster and someone running a scam based on the disaster. The COVID pandemic is no exception, but this scam is in a class of its own.

When Björn Johansson received an email in July 2020 inviting him to speak at an online debate on COVID-19 modeling, he didn’t think twice. “I was interested in the topic and I agreed to participate,” says Johansson, a medical doctor and researcher at the Karolinska Institute. “I thought it was going to be an ordinary academic seminar. It was an easy decision for me.”

Three years later, Johansson has come to regret that decision. The Polish company behind the conference, Villa Europa, claims he still owes them fees for taking part, and is seeking payment through a Swedish court. After adding legal costs and interest to the bill, the company is demanding a whopping €80,000.

Johansson isn’t alone. Dozens of researchers participated in the same series of online conferences on COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 and many have received demands for payment from Villa Europa. At least five are being pursued through courts in their own countries for fees of tens of thousands of euros, although several researchers are fighting back.

You should, as the sages counsel, read the whole thing. It is, as the sages say, wiiiiiiild.

For a second I was surprised no one has tried this on right wing blowhards and edgelords. But then I remembered that some things are too vile for even the hungriest bottom feeders.

All the same, the “instructors” at various Freeze Peach Universities might want to give their contracts a close read.

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