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NOT the Nigerians - but Canadian/Russian/Latvian/Indian scam artists
Thread poster: Gisela Murdter

Gisela Murdter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
Aug 31, 2006

I have received another e-mail by one of these agency impersonators – this time from Canada ( see below). The previous ones were from Russia, Latvia and India.

They rarely address me personally, always come via a Hotmail or Yahoo e-mail address, and at the bottom quote the website of a reputable agency. I now always contact the agency via the e-mail address on the website and always get the same response: 'No, this person doesn't work for us, we didn't send you the e-mail'.

Has anybody else received similar offers over the past 4 – 6 weeks or so?

Gisela

-----Original Message-----

From: Henri Marquad [mailto:henri_c_marquad@hotmail.com]

Sent: 31 August 2006 14:56

To: henri_c_marquad@hotmail.com

Subject: Urgent German to English

Dear Translator,

we have a project of about 10 pages, that needs to be translated from German to English. The deadline is Monday, the 4th September, at 12 noon GMT.

Please, respond if interested, stating your best rates.

Thank you.

Regards,

Henri Claubert Marquad

Project Co-ordinator,

Les traductions COTRAD Translation

Address: 8-31 Thomas St., Aylmer, Qc, J9H 3G5, Canada

Phone: 1-819-920-0074
Fax: 1-819-684-8229

E-mail: Click to send

eb site: http://www.magma.ca/~cotrad

________________________________________________________________

MSN Messenger - kaikki ystävät klikkauksen päässä! Lataa tästä ilmaiseksi.

http://messenger.msn.fi


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langnet  Identity Verified
Italy
Local time: 00:17
Member (2002)
Italian to German
+ ...
Maybe... Aug 31, 2006

...we should organize something to "strike back" as scambaiters do (www.419eater.com is a very interesting site ). It seems that these translator scams are recently increasing (though I myself haven't got any e-mail like this yet).

That is: someone posing as the "I am Interested" translator" stating very low rates as "best rates" to get the "job", boasting about expertise, experience, references, degrees etc.

Then, split up the ten pages to ten or more different volunteer translators who will all deliver definite rubbish translations using preferredly an online translation tool like babelfish as a basis and doing some "editing" for "cosmetic" reasons.

The outcome might be very interesting...

Seriously, I'm rather concerned about these scams. What do these scammers aim at? Are they "only" trying to get a translation for free? Or is this just a pretext for bilking the translator out of real money ("your translation was rubbish and I will sue you if you don't refund me for the trouble I had with my client...)?


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NancyLynn
Canada
Local time: 18:17
Member (2002)
French to English
+ ...
Being very familiar with Aylmer, QC Aug 31, 2006

I can see that the fax number quoted definitely originated there.

I would be very concerned if I were the one on Thomas St., having my coordinates used in this manner.

Nancy

[Edited at 2007-01-09 01:37]


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Gisela Murdter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
they are already being investigated Sep 1, 2006

NancyLynn - I got in touch with COTRAD and they are now investigating. They didn't take it lightly that their good name is being abused.

langnet - I would love to take part in a counter scam like suggested by you, but fear we would be wasting our energy.

When I had a similar e-mail from a 'Russian'agency, I saw someone posting something similar on TCR and got in touch with the colleague. This is what she replied:

''From the start I felt that something smelled fishy about David’s offer. I thus responded that I would be more than glad to do the job at the condition that I send him half of the translation two days before the deadline, expecting to receive half of the payment on my PayPal account within a day. And only once I had received that payment would I email him the other half of the translation with its payment expected within a week.
As soon as I wrote him that, he told me that the job had been assigned to another outsourcer.
Two or three days after posting my inquiries on TCR and on a few other similar lists I was contacted by two translators: one was contacted by David with the same company name he gave you, the other was contacted by him with a third company name. The first one had asked for a full advance payment and David quickly lost interest. The second one had accepted a job from him but told me that he was very demanding, constantly calling her (even on weekends) and did not seem to understand that she sometimes needed to rest and take the weekend off. The latter translator feared that once her job completed she would not be paid but since she had accepted the assignment, she felt that she had to complete the job even though she had no guarantee that she would be paid.''

I think we have to be vigilant and make others aware of these scams.


[Edited at 2006-09-01 09:47]


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The LT>EN Guy  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Member (2007)
Lithuanian to English
Just a little detail... Sep 1, 2006

The email you received seems to have originated from Finland or at least a Finnish speaker living somewhere else...

"MSN Messenger - kaikki ystävät klikkauksen päässä! Lataa tästä ilmaiseksi.

http://messenger.msn.fi"


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Gisela Murdter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
yes, and hopefully COTRAD... Sep 1, 2006

... can use this to find out who has been abusing their name.

The other scam artists were more careful and didn't make such a mistake.

[Edited at 2006-09-01 14:31]


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Mireille K  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:17
French to English
+ ...
I received a similar e-mail Sep 1, 2006

Hello,

I received a similar e-mail from a Jasmine in India, asking for my rates for a long term automotive translation.
I checked the outsourcer's name and it had 5s on the blueboard.
I sent my rate and told her that I can provide a sample translation, but I will not do a test.
She responded by ignoring what I said and offering $0.03 per word and a test translation (1,300 words) which looked like a chapter in a manual. She wanted me to do the test for free of course, because I have nothing better to do with my weekend.
Do these people think we are stupid???


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Michael Bastin  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 00:17
English to French
+ ...
just happened to us Sep 22, 2006

This person contacted a translator pretending he was from our group of translators.

We'll be investigating on the subject!


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Carl Olsen
German to English
I just realized something .... Oct 23, 2006

I've just been scammed for $209.00 of work. I just delivered some work to someone claiming to be "Henri Clavovich Marquad", alleging to be from a large Russian agency, with the email henri_c_marquad@hotmail.com. The problem was that I got desperate for money and sloppy, and didn't do any checking. It sounds from the date of your posts that this guy has been at work since at least August, so if I had only googled the email, I would have come to this page I'm posting on today, and I would have refused the job.

The email I got also had two sentences in Finnish at the bottom, and it says "MSN messenger". I seriously doubt that would help find out who this is though.

They always say, never ever take a job from someone who has a freemail account, like hotmail.com. Now I can see why.

Carl Olsen


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Carl Olsen
German to English
p.s. Oct 23, 2006

He claimed to be from TransLink, a Russian translation agency. He originally gave an email from the domain .t-link.ru (the email didn't come from that domain, though). Subsequent emails gave no contact information at all except the alleged name.

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xxxPoveyTrans

Local time: 23:17
German to English
Henri MArquad Oct 24, 2006

Carl Olsen wrote:

He claimed to be from TransLink, a Russian translation agency. He originally gave an email from the domain .t-link.ru (the email didn't come from that domain, though). Subsequent emails gave no contact information at all except the alleged name.


Yes, I am afraid I also got conned by him. Interestingly, he profile has been removed from PROZ.com. HOw did PROZ let him advertise on here?


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Gisela Murdter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Henri Marquad Oct 25, 2006

This person obviously has been doing business for quite a while, always abusing a different agency's good name. I keep being sent work offers from the same person, but always with the name of yet another agency. Or no agency at all.

When I looked at the last files s/he sent to me (we don't really know the gender, do we?) I noticed that they were court cases going back to 1996. All of them - and they were not related. Purchase of a property in Ireland? Owning/carrying a semi-automatic gun? Who needs court case translations from 1996? All court cases I have been translating so far have been from a few days/weeks back. Is this person just taking the mickey? Then s/he has a very warped sense of humour.

I keep wondering under which name s/he is actually working to acquire the work s/he is dishing out - if this really is proper translation work and not just 'fun' to them. Judging from most e-mails they were sent from Finland from the Finnish Windows Live Messenger (I clicked on the link) maybe not even from a stationary PC - maybe a Blackberry or Ipac?

I wonder if MNS/Hotmail or the Police would be able to find out who Henri Marquad really is if you would approach them?


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Carl Olsen
German to English
more on the emails Oct 27, 2006

I took the liberty of doing a quick IP address trace on the email and it definitely originated with a Finnish web provider, elisa.fi.

My knowledge of the law is very shaky, but I would suspect that any complaint would most likely have to be filed in the city/province/country where the emails are originating. If I'm a victim in the US or UK or France, for example, I don't think my local police would have the ability to do much about it, even if they wanted to. The person committing the offense is not a citizen of their country.

I understand that in some countries complaints about delinquent customers can be registered with the local government. It would be a longshot, because I would have to find the person's name, and of course, I don't know Finnish lol.

Carl Olsen


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xxxSMutanen
Local time: 00:17
English to Finnish
RUSSIAN SCAM Jan 8, 2007

Dear fellow translators and interpreters,

it is my belief that the situation being discussed here can be regarded as an organized internet scam originating from Russia.

I am a freelance translator myself. I have been in the profession for just over 7 years now. I am a native of Finland, although I reside in Austria.

I have never used Proz.com before. But, the reason I decided to sign on here is because, I would not otherwise be able to post a response to the comments being made here, regarding the impression that whoever is behind this is located somewhere in Finland.

I strongly believe that this whole unfortunate issue is being masterminded by unsrupulous individuals in RUSSIA.

Let me explain why I think this is so.

Russian programmers have been known to pull scams like this before. They are popular for one thing : they never use direct links. They almost always use third parties to conduct their internet correspondence. Even going to the extent of invading private emails and IP addresses.

Last year, in March, I was contacted, by email, by a certain individual who called himself Evegeniy Onegin. And who claimed to be a representative (I think he referred to himself as the project manager) of a certain translation agency located in St. Petersburg, russia. Within the email were the agency's contact details, including address and phone number.

Now, although many people may not know this, Evgeniy Onegin is a well-known russian poet & writer.

I am not alleging that the name "Evgeniy Onegin" no longer exists in Russia. However, I could not help but be cautious. So, on an impulse, I placed a quick phone call to the agency in question. Not entirely to my surprise, the person I spoke to told me that no such name existed amongst their employees!

This was my first incident. Later that year, in August, I received another email from a certain Henri Marquad, claiming to represent an agency located somewhere in Greece. This time, however, I was not so cautious. I accepted a job which required translation from English to Finnish. The job was not too large, merely about 700 words or so. We agreed that payment would be effected within 30 days.

Needless to say, after 30 days, Mr "Marquad" was nowhere to be found. I called the agency in Greece, and was told that there was no such individual in their employ. When I narrated the situation to them, they, of course, told me that there was nothing they could do about my money, since I had no formal agreement with them. However, considering that their company name was vanadalized, they did agree to do a little investigating.

About 2 weeks later, they contacted me themselves, and said that they had traced the IP address of the alleged "Henri Marquad" to a well-known Internet Provider in Finland : Elisa. They were unable to give me a specific name, but they did ascertain that the IP address was registered under a company name.

When they gave me the name, I was shocked beyond belief! The name they gave me belonged to my brother-in-law (my sister's huaband), himself a native-english professional translator, residing in Finland.

Immediately, I called him by phone, and told him the disturbing news. At first, he thought I was joking. Until I sent him copies of all the email correspondence that had transpired between myself and this Henri Marquad, as well as the emails from the agency in Greece. That was when he believed me.

My brother-in-law has been in the business nearly 15 years. Like me, he works from his home-office. And, like me, he possesses his own website. The first question I asked him was if anyone had access to his computer except him. He told me that the only two people who used his computer usually where him and his wife.

After discussing the situation at length, we deduced that his IP link had somehow been tampered with, although we could not figure out by whom.

At my urging, he contacted legal counsel, so as to fore-protect himself. Unfortunately, however, he felt that the damage to his reputation had been done.

Ironically, the matter did not end there. I flew to Finland for the xmas holidays. Naturally, my brother-in-law and I raised the matter again. To my surprise, he told me that another colleague of ours, a very close friend, a translator who resides in Germany, had also fallen victim. Apparently, this same Henri Marquad had sent out quite a few inquiries, claiming to represent a certain translation agency based in Latvia, and seeking translators for a large project. To achieve this, he used our colleagues IP address! When the translators in question began to seek this Henri Marquad, to demand payment, they traced the email address to our colleague in Germany. Only then did he get wind of the situation.

Towards the end of the xmas break, while I was still there, I received an email from yet another individual who called himself "Juusi Stromberg", representing a translation agency based in Turku, Finland, and inquiring if I would be interested in performing a short urgent translation. I showed the email to my brother-in-law. This time, there was one snag : upon inspection of the contents of the email, we located, at the bottom, contact details which did not match any Finnish co-ordinates. There was an alternate email address, followed by two phone numbers. The country codes were Russian.

We dialed one of the phone numbers. And, not much to our surprise, a male voice responded in russian! Apparently, the idiot had forgotten to remove his signature from the bottom of the email BEFORE contacting potential freelance translators (please, forgive my bad language)!!

With this, we were finally convinced that the individuals behind this scam were based in Russia. Upon careful consideration, it was not really that difficult to figure out from the beginning. These individuals probably began their scam by introducing themselves exactly as they were : with perfectly normal russian names, and acting as representatives of russian agencies. But, after a while, I can only assume that they themselves realized that the general public were beginning to get suspicious of emails sent from Russian-based sources. So, they decided to "modify" their approach ---- by using such flashy names like Henri Marquad, Jussi Stromberg, and so on.

They are also quite clever : they know that it would be a mistake to try to send out email correspondence from their own local servers. So, they violate other private servers for their use. If, for example, they send out emails representing an agency based in, say, France; if a trace is made on the IP address, it would be discovered to originate somewhere in France. The same can be said for any other European country. I am not sure about places like South America, or something.

To track the rascals is practically impossible. They do not reside in Europe. They reside in Russia (at least, this is my strong belief). And, while I do not wish to insult our Russian colleagues, it is a well-known fact that the russian authorities are not particularly knowledgeable in such matters relating to IT crimes, Internet fraud, etc, etc.

I would like say, to my fellow translators here on Proz.com : I respect your views and opinions, and naturally, as everyone else, we are grateful for your input on this unfortunate matter. However, I could not help but feel slightly affronted when I read on the Internet that the individuals who perform this scam are suspected to reside in Finland.

On a final note, I would only like to add, as a word of caution : if ever you receive an email from someone claiming to represent an agency, please make sure you contact the agency in question BY TELEPHONE FIRST!! So as to determine whether or not the individual is who he or she says they are.


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Gisela Murdter  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:17
Member (2005)
German to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Russian scam Jan 8, 2007

Dear SMutanen,

Welcome and thank you for taking the time to tell this worrying story! We can all avoid being duped by being careful and checking out the job offers as best as possible. But to have one's domain highjacked without knowing - that's a totally different issue.

I wonder if one of our technically versed friends here at proz.com knows what could be done to prevent this? If anything can be done at all.

Best wishes - Gisela


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