Curators are growing suspicious of specimen requests from a museum in India. According to an article published in Science Insider, natural history repositories all over the world have been plagued by e-mail requests from the Life Science Museum in Jhansi, India, which claim that the director needs assistance replacing specimens lost to unexpected disaster.
Andrew Bentley, a scientist and museum curator who manages the fish collections at the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute in Lawrence, received such a specimen request from the Life Science Museum. After donating 36 surplus specimens, he tried to contact the museum but his attempts quickly proved futile. Bentley was unable to verify any information about the Life Science Museum or the alleged director Mohammad Haq.
Like Bentley, natural history collections around the world have reported receiving similar e-mails requests, from senders identifying themselves as Haq or Sheikh Taufique Rehmani. Curators state that these emails specify species and sizes which are frequently used in schools and training programs. Specimens like hagfish, lampreys, and ratfish, all of which are extremely valuable, have been requested by the mystery museum, which raises concern that contributions could be used for profit.
The legitimacy of neither the e-mails nor the institution has been confirmed, according to Science Insider, but some speculate that the e-mail requests are no more than a clever scam.