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What to do when you suspect a fraud?
Thread poster: xxxmakiten
xxxmakiten
United States
Local time: 01:36
Japanese to English
Sep 21, 2006

So I accepted a job, and I after awhile I started suspecting that it was a fraud. It initially looked like many other agencies I deal with online and even (technically) requested tax information (i.e. they said at some point they would "need" it), but the agency still made me feel a little uneasy.

They only seem to respond to e-mails late at night (I know some agencies do this, but they are available during the day as well), and we live in the same country (well, maybe).

Then I decided to look up the company on several different translator directories. (I didn't find the outsourcer through Proz) On Proz, I noticed it had a low LWA, but only one person filed a complaint (a few hours later another did), so I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, i.e., I was going to check them out without telling them I can't do the project. I found this information:

-The address registered on their Whois record does not match the address at all (they are on opposite sides of the country), and the registrant is a personal name. I know this could be nothing, until I did more poking around.

-The person who registered it registered through some (obviously) godaddy site (it wasn't godaddy.com, but it might as well be--the site design, model, and phone number are the same) who was also listed in the records, and their host is also a godaddy host using a different name, but similar design, and had the same woman and phone number as godaddy.com

-The address given on the Whois record is actually a hospital or something, and the phone number does not match the address (the phone number points to another place a few blocks away)

-Their website could fool anybody, but there were some big problems with that too:

The design was fine--nice and professional--but perhaps too professional. all the files were htm files, and given that I also design websites, I know GoDaddy's limitations as a host, so that means the site doesn't use any programming because the .htm extension is used

All links but one was functional--it was a news feed, and all the news posts after looking at it are stupid

The site has a 2004 copyright, and the Whois record starts from 2005

The site did have an address, a phone, and a "fax" number, but...

-The phone number is fishy. You call it only to get a fairly basic answering machine (it just tells you to leave a message), and it takes awhile to get a ring. Reverse lookups either return no information ("doesn't exist"), or you have to pay to find information (only one site does this--have information I mean)

-so is the fax number (it's the same number)

and now the fun part that makes me look crazy: the address

A quick search on the address online will give you a physical location (I used Google Maps), which at first seems okay, but I wasn't convinced. I Google searched the address without using maps, and couldn't get any results that exactly matched the address. Several had the right street name, but a different number.

So I checked the closest address to the one on their site--it's right across the street. When looking at the satellite image, I noticed that where the address is looks like a side entrance to a building--the front entrance is facing a direction parallel to the street. But I didn't have an address for that, but luckily there was a park right behind that building with an address. Being a municipal park, it gave me several addresses, one of which was on the street that intersects the street listed on the outsourcer's website. I looked that address up on Google Maps, and sure enough, it is the front entrance to that building.

After all that detective work, that clearly revealed a fraud was going on, but my question is is there a way to make this right? If the client is real and doesn't suspect fraud, will it even be possible to find the client? If there is no client, then what? Stop working? Won't that just mean someone else will get swindled by them?

Yes it's long. I spent too much time playing detective, and someone has to pay. And they won't.


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Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Finland
Local time: 08:36
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Is it a big job? Sep 21, 2006

If you have done the job already, you send the file secured with a password and promise to send the password after you recieve the payment.
Or ask them to pay upfront at least part of it.
Perhaps you should tell the customer about your doubts and request proper contact details before you go on.
Regards
Heinrich


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xxxmakiten
United States
Local time: 01:36
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
Jobs Sep 21, 2006

Well, I had turned in a job (it was small--2 pages) before finding this, and there was another one (10 pages) which I'm in the middle of, but stopped when I came across this information.

I did ask for the client's information--I have yet to get it.


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LegalTransform  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:36
Member (2002)
Spanish to English
+ ...
What to do when you suspect fraud? Sep 21, 2006

Send them an e-mail and tell them that there is a possibility your account may be down for maintenance on or around the due date and that you will be sending them a disk copy and print-out of the translation to their mailing address on the website via overnight delivery at your expense so that it arrives one day before the deadline and see how they respond.

If it turns out everything is legitimate, you can say that the maintenance was cancelled or completed early.




[Edited at 2006-09-21 08:01]


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French Foodie  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:36
French to English
+ ...
Ingenious! Sep 21, 2006

TampaTranslator wrote:

Send them an e-mail and tell them that there is a possibility your account may be down for maintenance on or around the due date and that you will be sending them a disk copy and print-out of the translation to their mailing address on the website via overnight delivery at your expense so that it arrives one day before the deadline and see how they respond.

If it turns out everything is legitimate, you can say that the maintenance was cancelled or completed early.




[Edited at 2006-09-21 08:01]


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TimG
United States
Local time: 00:36
Japanese to English
Sounds familiar Sep 21, 2006

This sounds an awful lot like the same agency I'm dealing with right now. Although I haven't done as much detective work as you have, many things match up. And seeing as how we are working in the same language pair it may even be for the same project. Did you notice that the last name on the job post and the name in the emails had slightly different spelling? Luckily, I haven' started any translations yet. I think I'll ask some more questions first.

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xxxmakiten
United States
Local time: 01:36
Japanese to English
TOPIC STARTER
It's probably so Sep 21, 2006

Tim,

I didn't mention that earlier, but yes, the name on the ad and the name in the e-mail have different spellings for me too.

Assuming we're doing that same work, I found out that it's split up into groups of 10, and there are I think 20 total files for the project, so it's same to say that 18 other people in our pair are also being affected.

Today I had another agency who I work with and actually pays me ask me to come up with a quote for him based on some files pulled off a server. It wasn't the same one, but it might as well have been. There's only a folder for one language, and the rest are random folders.

As for the person we're likely working with, if they are shady, it's not a good idea to have your site hosted by a host that won't let you do much in the way of securing your server. To have uploaded so few files to a server when I'm sure outsources have much more work than this, and into a pretty generic-sounding directory adds to the fishiness.

In any event, I did get the client details from the outsourcer, but for the kind of work I would be translating and the type of corporation (and name) the client is, the two have no relation to each other.


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xxxAdrian MM.
Local time: 07:36
French to English
+ ...
Go round there and fish them out! Sep 24, 2006

It's no use sending emails and faxes. Get out from behind your desk - professionals including lawyers and accountants should do so more often - and go looking for them if they are within your orbit! If so, ask someone - a male if you are a female - to accompany you to the scene or ask another translator/ interpreter or private investigator in the area to check the suspects out.

It's worth it if it's a mega-job or mega-project. That is what I do, even if the clients are in another country. If I'm turned away at the door because it's a different organisation, I recontact the liars and tell them what I've done. The stumped reaction is worth it.




[Edited at 2006-09-24 21:10]


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