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Alert: Beware of Current Fraud
Thread poster: Ulrike MacKay

Ulrike MacKay  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:40
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
Jun 21, 2008

Dear All,

BEWARE if you are offered to translate a USER'S MANUAL for a huge lathe (built by a Spanish Machine Tools Company) from GERMAN into ENGLISH, around 4,500 words.

PLEASE READ THE FOLLOWING CAREFULLY:

Last week, I completed two jobs for this fake guy claiming to be

Rxx Axxxx
Executive Administration
XXX International Ltd

sending e-mails and job offers from xxxxxxx94@yahoo.com

Unfortunately it was only after that I found out I had fallen for a swindler never meaning to pay.

Either way, since last week, I have done quite some research on this guy and found out the following facts which I am able to proof:

=> Communicating with FREELANCERS (whom he gets to do the job for him), he uses/abuses the above indicated identiy of an existing person/company in the USA (which have nothing whatsoever to do with translations**).

==> ==> This company is registered in the BlueBoard, but this has NOT been initiated by the REAL company**, the REAL company does NOT post any translation jobs via Proz.com and has never done so**, the company's address stated in the profile is long outdated** (** = as they confirmed to me)

==> ==> ==> I have made a BB-entry - if you come across this company, CONTACT ME! I'm able to provide more details!

=> Communicating with OUTSOURCERS / AGENCIES (whom he gets the jobs from), he pretends to be a translators' office in Egypt: AXXX Translation (the contact person being a man calling himself "Axxxx", the most common name in the Arabian world).

==> ==> This company is also registerd in the BlueBoard - and strange enough, from there you can see an address, whereas their OWN WEBSITE does not reveal any location: NO address, NO phone/fax numbers, NO contact person. However, the list of "clients" they show off is simply "too much".

==> ==> ==> I have made a BB-entry - so, again, if you come across this company, CONTACT ME! I'm able to provide more details!

Once I had delivered those two jobs last week, I asked this fake guy for his invoice details and he never replied (that's when I started investigating). But two days ago, he had the nerve to offer me another job, which I "accepted" just to be able to find out more and get additional confirmation on what I had already found out.

So by now, I have proof of the above and have maybe even identified a third alias.

At this moment, however, he is desperately waiting for me to deliver this job I "accepted" - but he might be starting to look out to get somebody else to do it. So BEWARE if you are offered to translate a USER'S MANUAL for a huge lathe (built by a Spanish Machine Tools Company) from GERMAN into ENGLISH, around 4,500 words.

I was able to literally track down every single translation agency involved - starting from this Spanish machine tools company right down to the "honest" agency who placed the job with the Egyptian frauding agency. So everybody along the line is in the picture and they know this Egyptian comany won't deliver because I won't deliver! (IN THIS SPECIAL CASE, I would have done the job dealing with them direct, but I'm not capable of this highly technical and specialised field.)

The "honest" agency involved is now trying to find somebody to do the job - so, in case you are asked, be careful WHOM BY!

So far, I have not made it obvious to this guy, that I know what's going on (and neither has any of the other companies/agencies involved). So unless he's checking the forums and/or the BlueBoard, it's HIM now, who hasn't got a clue....

PLEASE get in touch with me, if you happen to be contacted by anybody fitting in this scheme!

Cheers,
Ulrike


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Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 22:40
Member (2006)
Swedish to English
+ ...
yahoo, hotmail, gmail etc... Jun 21, 2008

The first warning sign is when a company uses one of these free and largely anonymous yahoo or hotmail email accounts. That is always bad news. I generally don't even respond to inquiries from them.

The second mistake was doing business with a company based in an Arab country. I am sorry if that sounds unfair to those who are legit, but when doing business with an Arab country you have no recourse if something goes wrong. My own billing company refuses to accep any invoices intended for customers in Arabs countries. As well, collection agencies based in those countries are often bribed by debtors. The non-paying client will simply pay your collection agency the 20% fee it would have charged you had it been able to collect and then tell you that it was unable to collect payment.

It's not about being prejudiced. It is about covering your own rear end.


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Ulrike MacKay  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:40
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
CLAIMING to be vs. BEING Jun 21, 2008

Paul Lambert wrote:

The first warning sign is when a company uses one of these free and largely anonymous yahoo or hotmail email accounts.

The second mistake was doing business with a company based in an Arab country.




Thanks for your reply, Paul.

I must admit, the night I was first contacted, I somehow DID have a strange feeling..., also about this sendes e-mail address. But I know that e.g. my boss in the company I last worked for used to use a freemail acount when he was out of the office travelling...

Anyway, I'm sure I would have been more careful if the one who contacted me had used an Arab identity - but he claimed to be a member of a large company in the US, stating even their website...

So, unless I am a real computer genius, how can I tell someone is contacting me from any internet café in Egypt, when he claims to be staff of a US-government related company?

... and saying this, I SHOULD have been more suspicious on seeing this sender's e-mail address...

Cheers,
Ulrike


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:40
English to German
+ ...
Warning on the BB record - IP address in e-mail headers Jun 21, 2008

Ulrike,
First of all, ProZ.com moderators posted a note on the affected company's Blue Board record, cross-referencing the warning they posted on their website.


Anyway, I'm sure I would have been more careful if the one who contacted me had used an Arab identity - but he claimed to be a member of a large company in the US, stating even their website...

So, unless I am a real computer genius, how can I tell someone is contacting me from any internet café in Egypt, when he claims to be staff of a US-government related company?


No need for a genius here: when receving a message from an unknown sender (regardless of whether a freemail domain is used), check the message headers. Identify the IP address(ses) shown there, and use an IP-to-location checker (various free utilities, such as IP2Location to verify.

Best regards,
Ralf


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xxxJPW  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:40
Spanish to English
+ ...
About IP addresses Jun 21, 2008

Ralf Lemster writes:

No need for a genius here: when receving a message from an unknown sender (regardless of whether a freemail domain is used), check the message headers. Identify the IP address(ses) shown there, and use an IP-to-location checker (various free utilities, such as IP2Location to verify.


It's a good way of checking, but it doesn't tell the whole picture: my IP address comes up as London, and yet I am based in Northern Ireland.

Would this be cause for concern for some people?

You can only draw so many conclusions from an IP address check.


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:40
English to German
+ ...
Not perfect, but useful Jun 21, 2008

Hi John,

It's a good way of checking, but it doesn't tell the whole picture:

Correct; there are other examples - users accessing the web via AOL are often shown with US IP addresses.

Would this be cause for concern for some people?

Possibly, but a serious outsourcer will be able to explain and/or provided additional reference data.

You can only draw so many conclusions from an IP address check.

True - but the more information you can get, the better. I'd say that in Ulrike's case, it would have been relatively easy to spot the discrepancy.

Best regards,
Ralf


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The Misha
Local time: 16:40
Russian to English
+ ...
To be fair, why Arab countries alone? Jun 22, 2008

For fear of being censored by zealous site moderators (it happened before), I am not going to name names. However, for all the practical purposes, what kind of recourse do you think you have against a non-payer located ANYWHERE outside of the Western world? Personally, I do not accept any jobs from outside the US and EC. Paul Lambert is right: this is not prejudice, it's risk management.

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Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 22:40
Member (2006)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Quite right ... but keep in mind. Jun 22, 2008

The Misha wrote:

For fear of being censored by zealous site moderators (it happened before), I am not going to name names. However, for all the practical purposes, what kind of recourse do you think you have against a non-payer located ANYWHERE outside of the Western world? Personally, I do not accept any jobs from outside the US and EC. Paul Lambert is right: this is not prejudice, it's risk management.


You are quite right. There are plenty of places in the world where recourse against a non-payer would be difficult. You are pretty safe with the US and European countries, however I also have no problem with Australia, New Zealand, Israel and Japan - they tend to pay.

The reason why I mention the Arab countries in particular is partly from old experiences from other lines of business I have been in in the past. It is a cultural thing. In Araby there is a sense that one should be loyal to ones own relations regardless of the matters of justice or right and wrong. Thus one will stand up for ones own brother, right or wrong, in a dispute with a cousin - but will stand up for a cousin, right or wrong, in a dispute with a non-family member in the tribe - but stand up for the tribe, right or wrong, in a dispute with another tribe etc... you get the picture.

Unfortunately, this extends to courts and official agencies in Arab countries. As such, an Arab court is rather reluctant to stand up and uphold the contract of a foreigner in another country against one of his own Arab brethren. Remember also that Araby is a shame culture, so a debt collector standing in the face of an Arab debtor does not want to look like he is unhospitable so he is inclined to take a bribe in order to save face in the eyes of his own Arab brethren. As the Arab debt collector is not likely to meet a western supplier face-to-face, he can tell you that "it was not possible to collect" and avoid the shame of having to look you in the eye. Besides, you are an outsider and you are due no loyality in his eyes.

Araby is a rich and fascinating culture, but it does take practice in learning how to deal with them.

That said, if anyone knows of a serious and honest translation agency in an Arab country, such as one in Dubai, please do mention them in the Blue Board. I want to be fair and give them an opportunity to separate the wheat from the chaff.

[Edited at 2008-06-22 10:33]


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Ulrike MacKay  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:40
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Checking Headers Jun 22, 2008

Ralf Lemster wrote:

Hi John,

It's a good way of checking, but it doesn't tell the whole picture:

Correct; there are other examples - users accessing the web via AOL are often shown with US IP addresses.

Would this be cause for concern for some people?

Possibly, but a serious outsourcer will be able to explain and/or provided additional reference data.

You can only draw so many conclusions from an IP address check.

True - but the more information you can get, the better. I'd say that in Ulrike's case, it would have been relatively easy to spot the discrepancy.

Best regards,
Ralf


As far as the headers of the fake Rxx Axxxx' e-mails are concerned, I have already printed those out and passed them on to the police resp. their section for internet crime. Not even they could tell right away where the sender is located. So I wouldn't think there's hope for me...

But anyway, thanks for pointing out this IP2Location tool - I will give it a try, seems to be better than having NO means of checking at all.

Cheers,
Ulrike


[Bearbeitet am 2008-06-22 11:51]


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Ulrike MacKay  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:40
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Slight (?) Difference Jun 22, 2008

Thanks to everybody for replying to and commenting on this thread.

At the same time, however, I would like to point out again that this is NOT "just" about any outsourcer reluctant to pay, it's NOT about an outsourcer who's changed his mind somewhere along the way, it's NOT about an outsourcer disputing the quality of my work or looking for any other excuse to get away without paying -

THIS is about PLAIN, FULLY INTENDED and WELL ORGANISED FRAUD.

I am aware there's always a risk of not getting paid in time, not getting paid in full or not getting paid at all - and whenever that happens it's more than just a nuissance.

But this guy (these guys?) betrays on a large scale - systematically. And he is taking advantage of the fact that it is far easier to cheat 100 people out of USD 1,000.00 each, than it is to cheat any 1 person out of USD 100,000.00 - last but not least thanks to the fact that not only the victim is almost certain to let go and simply go on like "once bitten, twice shy" rather than investing any more time and/or money. When it comes to fraud on an international level, not even legal bodies are willing to concern themselves with "little potatoes", as the REAL Rxx Axxxx nicely put it, telling me it's exactely the same at his end in the US (despite the fact that with him it's not only a money matter, but a matter of identity abuse).

That's why I'm trying to make as many freelancers AND agencies as possible aware of this defrauder and I'll be more than HAPPY TO PROVIDE FULL DETAILS AND NAMES to anybody who contacts me personally.

Cheers,
Ulrike


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Ulrike MacKay  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:40
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
WATCH OUT - NEW JOB ON THE GO!!! Jun 23, 2008

FAKE Rxx Axxxx just offered me a new job to do:

5 pages on some sort of fly/sun protection grids for doors and windows.

Meant to be a TEST translation now, to be followed by around 1,500 pages!!!

I'm already in touch with the original outsourcer - I'll keep you posted!

Cheers,
Ulrike


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Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 21:40
English to Arabic
+ ...
Man, oh man... Jun 23, 2008

Don't get me wrong, Paul, I'm not one of those people who leap up in outrage as soon as someone so much as hints that there may be something wrong with my culture.
But some of your "cultural observations" (selection below) made me just want to pull my hair in frustration. It would have been much wiser, Paul, to make your comments more generalised - as The Misha correctly pointed out - by stating that you have to be careful when dealing with clients in most parts of the world, because legal recourse is not as well-established as it is in the Western world.

Paul Lambert wrote:

It is a cultural thing. In Araby there is a sense that one should be loyal to ones own relations regardless of the matters of justice or right and wrong. Thus one will stand up for ones own brother, right or wrong, in a dispute with a cousin - but will stand up for a cousin, right or wrong, in a dispute with a non-family member in the tribe - but stand up for the tribe, right or wrong, in a dispute with another tribe etc... you get the picture.

...
Remember also that Araby is a shame culture, so a debt collector standing in the face of an Arab debtor does not want to look like he is unhospitable so he is inclined to take a bribe in order to save face in the eyes of his own Arab brethren.


Tribes... shame culture... tents, camels and honour killings... that's the image I get in my head when I read your observations!

I wonder also how well-founded your claim is that
collection agencies based in those countries are often bribed by debtors. The non-paying client will simply pay your collection agency the 20% fee it would have charged you


Finally, let's not forget that this is not an issue of outstanding payment from an existing company, but an issue of fraud (as Tanja/Ulrike pointed out). And I'm sure I don't need to remind you that fraudsters exist everywhere, even in the civilised Western world.

PS: Araby - where is that?


[Edited at 2008-06-23 13:44]


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Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:40
English to German
+ ...
Back to topic, please Jun 23, 2008

Hi all,
Tanja Sahler & Ulrike MacKay wrote:
At the same time, however, I would like to point out again that this is NOT "just" about any outsourcer reluctant to pay, it's NOT about an outsourcer who's changed his mind somewhere along the way, it's NOT about an outsourcer disputing the quality of my work or looking for any other excuse to get away without paying -

Right, let's please stay on topic - and there is no need for any attack on any groups.

Best regards,
Ralf


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Paul Lambert  Identity Verified
Sweden
Local time: 22:40
Member (2006)
Swedish to English
+ ...
Indeed, I should be fair. Jun 23, 2008

Looking over my last past posting, I concede that I may have been painting everyone with the same brush, which is actually what I did *not* want to do.

(The remainder of the post removed by the author as it was rather off-topic and could have been interpreted in a way that was not intended. I apologise.)

[Edited at 2008-06-23 18:36]


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Ulrike MacKay  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 22:40
Member (2006)
English to German
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Keep tracking this thread! Jun 23, 2008

Dear All,

(and thanks, Ralf, for setting the focus again)

Please keep tracking this thread as I will keep using it to let you know about any jobs I'm offered by this fraudster.

For as long as it hasn't dawned on him yet that I've caught on a while ago, I will keep "accepting" these jobs in order

- to be able to track down the initial outsourcer,
- to warn everybody along the line and
- to inform you about any projects he is currently looking for some dummy for.

So, STAY TUNED!

Cheers,
Ulrike

PS: As far as this latest project is concerned (the fly/sun protection grid), the initial outsourcer as well as the decent GB-based translation agency involved are in the picture. The latter are now looking for another agency or freelancers themselves. Obviously I know their name, so if contacted about this project and you have the lightest doubt who by, just get in touch with me and I will confirm their name to you.


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